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Annu Rev Physiol. 1985;47:357-81.

The nature and regulation of the insulin receptor: structure and function.


Native, cell-surface insulin receptor consists of two glycoprotein subunit types with apparent masses of about 125,000 daltons (alpha subunit) and 90,000 daltons (beta subunit). The alpha and beta subunits are derived from a single polypeptide precursor by one or more proteolytic cleavages. The predominant subunit configuration in the native insulin receptor is a disulfide-linked heterotetrameric structure containing two alpha and two beta subunits. The alpha and beta insulin-receptor subunits seem to have distinct functions such that alpha appears to bind hormone whereas beta appears to possess intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity. In detergent extracts, insulin activates receptor autophosphorylation of tyrosine residues on its beta subunit, whereas in the presence of reductant, the alpha subunit is also phosphorylated. Other physiologically relevant substrates of the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase in target cells, if any, have not yet been identified. In intact cells, insulin activates serine/threonine phosphorylation of insulin receptor beta subunit as well as tyrosine phosphorylation. The biological role of the receptor-associated tyrosine kinase is not known. Tyrosine phosphorylation, catalyzed by either autophosphorylation or purified src kinase, of insulin receptor beta subunit in vitro activates the receptor kinase activity, whereas dephosphorylation with alkaline phosphatase deactivates the receptor kinase. The insulin receptor kinase is regulated by beta-adrenergic agonists and other agents that elevate cAMP in adipocytes, presumably via the cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Such agents decrease receptor affinity for insulin and partially uncouple receptor tyrosine kinase activity from activation by insulin. These effects appear to contribute to the biological antagonism between insulin and beta-agonists. The insulin receptor kinase is also inhibited in intact cells by phorbol esters that mediate serine/threonine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor, presumably via the Ca++-phospholipid-dependent protein kinase. These data suggest the hypothesis that a complex network of tyrosine and serine/threonine phosphorylations on the insulin receptor modulate its binding and kinase activities in an antagonistic manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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