Send to

Choose Destination
Biochemistry. 1999 May 4;38(18):5896-904.

Reversible change in thiol redox status of the insulin receptor alpha-subunit in intact cells.

Author information

Diabetes Section, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224-6825, USA.


In this study, we used maleimidobutyrylbiocytin to examine possible alteration that may occur in the redox state of the insulin receptor (IR) sulfhydryl groups in response to reduced glutathione (GSH) or N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). Short-term treatment of intact cells expressing large numbers of IR with GSH or NAC led to a rapid and reversible reduction of IR alpha-subunit disulfides, without affecting the receptor beta-subunit thiol reactivity. The overall integrity of the oligomeric structure of IR was maintained, indicating that neither class I nor class II disulfides were targeted by these agents. Similar findings were obtained in cells transfected with IR mutants lacking cysteine524, one of the class I disulfides that link the two IR alpha-subunits. Membrane-associated thiols did not participate in GSH- or NAC-mediated reduction of IR alpha-subunit disulfides. No difference in insulin binding was observed in GSH-treated cells; however, ligand-mediated increases in IR autophosphorylation, tyrosine phosphorylation of cellular substrates, and dual phosphorylation of the downstream target mitogen-activated protein kinase were inhibited at concentrations of GSH (10 mM or greater) that yielded a significant increase in IR alpha-subunit thiol reactivity. GSH did not affect IR signaling in the absence of insulin. Our results provide the first evidence that the IR alpha-subunit contains a select group of disulfides whose redox status can be rapidly altered by the reducing agents GSH and NAC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center