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J Biol Chem. 1990 Feb 15;265(5):2984-7.

Human red blood cell insulin-degrading enzyme and rat skeletal muscle insulin protease share antigenic sites and generate identical products from insulin.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68105.


The mechanisms of cellular insulin degradation remain uncertain. Considerable evidence now exists that the primary cellular insulin-degrading activity is a metallothiol proteinase. Two similar degrading activities have been purified and characterized. Insulin protease has been purified from rat skeletal muscle and insulin-degrading enzyme from human red blood cells. Whereas the two degrading activities share a number of similar properties, significant differences have also been reported; and it is not at all established that they are the same enzyme. To examine this, we have compared antigenic and catalytic properties of the two enzymatic activities. Monoclonal antibodies against the red blood cell enzyme adsorb the skeletal muscle enzyme; and on Western blots, the antibodies react with an identical 110-kDa protein. Immunoaffinity-purified enzymes from both red blood cells and skeletal muscle degrade [125I]iodo(B26)insulin to the same products as seen with purified insulin protease and with intact liver and kidney. Chelator-treated muscle and red blood cell enzymes can be reactivated with either Mn2+ or Ca2+. Thus, insulin-degrading enzyme and insulin protease have similar properties. These results support the hypothesis that these activities reside in the same enzyme.

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