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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Oct;293(4):E1092-102. Epub 2007 Aug 7.

Vasopressin is a physiological substrate for the insulin-regulated aminopeptidase IRAP.

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Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Insulin-regulated aminopeptidase (IRAP) is a membrane aminopeptidase and is homologous to the placental leucine aminopeptidase, P-LAP. IRAP has a wide distribution but has been best characterized in adipocytes and myocytes. In these cells, IRAP colocalizes with the glucose transporter GLUT4 to intracellular vesicles and, like GLUT4, translocates from these vesicles to the cell surface in response to insulin. Earlier studies demonstrated that purified IRAP cleaves several peptide hormones and that, concomitant with the appearance of IRAP at the surface of insulin-stimulated adipocytes, aminopeptidase activity toward extracellular substrates increases. In the present study, to identify in vivo substrates for IRAP, we tested potential substrates for cleavage by IRAP-deficient (IRAP(-/-)) and control mice. We found that vasopressin and oxytocin were not processed from the NH(2) terminus by isolated IRAP(-/-) adipocytes and skeletal muscles. Vasopressin was not cleaved from the NH(2) terminus after injection into IRAP(-/-) mice and exhibited a threefold increased half-life in the circulation of IRAP(-/-) mice. Consistent with this finding, endogenous plasma vasopressin levels were elevated twofold in IRAP(-/-) mice, and vasopressin levels in IRAP(-/-) brains, where plasma vasopressin originates, showed a compensatory decrease. We further established that insulin increased the clearance of vasopressin from control but not from IRAP(-/-) mice. In conclusion, we have identified vasopressin as the first physiological substrate for IRAP. Changes in plasma and brain vasopressin levels in IRAP(-/-) mice suggest a significant role for IRAP in regulating vasopressin. We have also uncovered a novel IRAP-dependent insulin effect: to acutely modify vasopressin.

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