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Biosystems. 1988;22(1):55-66.

Role of divalent metals in the activation and regulation of insulin receptor tyrosine kinase.

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  • 1Rutgers State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Newark, NJ 07102.


Multiple equilibrium equations were solved to separate the individual effects of ionic divalent metals, free nucleotides and their chelated species on insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (IRTK). Basal IRTK is activated by divalent metal cations when present in excess of that required for substrate formation, indicating the presence of a divalent cation-dependent regulatory site on the kinase. The activatory order for basal activity was Mn2+ greater than Co2+ greater than Mg2+ and Ca2+ = 0. The insulin-dependent activation of IRTK was minimal in the absence of excess free divalent metal, even when the concentration of MnATP or MgATP substrate present exceeded the apparent Km of the kinase. The activatory order for insulin-dependent activation of IRTK changed to Mg2+ greater than Mn2+ and Co2+ = 0. The titration of the MnCl2 saturation response at several concentrations of MgCl2 revealed that the insulin-dependent response of IRTK increases as a function of increasing MgCl2, while basal activity was unaffected. This enhancement of the responsiveness to insulin in the presence of both cations was not due to differing affinities of the kinase for substrate, as evidenced by nearly identical apparent Km values for MnATP and MgATP. The Mg2+-dependent increase in the response of the kinase to insulin may be due to Mg2+ inducing a stronger coupling between receptor and kinase than that observed with Mn2+ alone. The plotting of the effect of several concentrations of free divalent metals on substrate saturation curves revealed that an increase in either of the reactants increased the affinity of the insulin-activated kinase for the other respective reactant. Accordingly, free divalent metal and metal-ATP substrate interact with IRTK in a mutually inclusive manner. CaCl2 saturation curves in the presence of constant MnCl2 and increasing MgCl2 showed that the affinity of IRTK for Ca2+ decreases and the affinity for CaATP increased with increasing Mg2+. Our data suggests that IRTK contains three sites for interaction with divalent metal cations: a MeATP (active) site, a regulatory site, and a metal-dependent site acting to couple the receptor with the kinase.

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