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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e29198. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029198. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Systematic evaluation of the metabolic to mitogenic potency ratio for B10-substituted insulin analogues.

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Diabetes Research Unit, Novo Nordisk A/S, Maaloev, Denmark.



Insulin analogues comprising acidic amino acid substitutions at position B10 have previously been shown to display increased mitogenic potencies compared to human insulin and the underlying molecular mechanisms have been subject to much scrutiny and debate. However, B10 is still an attractive position for amino acid substitutions given its important role in hexamer formation. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between the receptor binding properties as well as the metabolic and mitogenic potencies of a series of insulin analogues with different amino acid substitutions at position B10 and to identify a B10-substituted insulin analogue without an increased mitogenic to metabolic potency ratio.


A panel of ten singly-substituted B10 insulin analogues with different amino acid side chain characteristics were prepared and insulin receptor (both isoforms) and IGF-I receptor binding affinities using purified receptors, insulin receptor dissociation rates using BHK cells over-expressing the human insulin receptor, metabolic potencies by lipogenesis in isolated rat adipocytes, and mitogenic potencies using two different cell types predominantly expressing either the insulin or the IGF-I receptor were systematically investigated. Only analogues B10D and B10E with significantly increased insulin and IGF-I receptor affinities as well as decreased insulin receptor dissociation rates displayed enhanced mitogenic potencies in both cell types employed. For the remaining analogues with less pronounced changes in receptor affinities and insulin receptor dissociation rates, no apparent correlation between insulin receptor occupancy time and mitogenicity was observed.


Several B10-substituted insulin analogues devoid of disproportionate increases in mitogenic compared to metabolic potencies were identified. In the present study, receptor binding affinity rather than insulin receptor off-rate appears to be the major determinant of both metabolic and mitogenic potency. Our results also suggest that the increased mitogenic potency is attributable to both insulin and IGF-I receptor activation.

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