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J Biol Chem. 1992 Sep 15;267(26):18320-8.

The insulin receptor-related receptor. Tissue expression, ligand binding specificity, and signaling capabilities.

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Department of Pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305.


In 1989, Shier and Watt identified a gene which was predicted to encode a new member of the insulin receptor (IR) family, and they called it the insulin receptor-related receptor (IRR) (Shier, P., and Watt, V. M. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 264, 14605-14608). However, the tissues expressing this receptor, its ligand binding specificity and its signaling capability have remained unknown. In the present studies we report Northern blot analyses and polymerase chain reaction data, which indicate that the IRR mRNA is expressed in a variety of tissues, including the human kidney, heart, skeletal muscle, liver, and pancreas. In order to examine the ligand(s) recognized by IRR, we constructed a chimeric receptor with the extracellular domain of the IR replaced with that of IRR. This chimera was found not to bind radioactively labeled insulin, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), or IGF-II. These ligands and relaxin, the only other known member of the mammalian insulin family, also failed to stimulate the tyrosine kinase activity of this chimeric receptor. A second chimeric receptor with the extracellular domain of IR and the kinase domain of IRR was also constructed and utilized to study the signaling capabilities of the kinase domain of IRR. This chimera exhibited high affinity insulin binding and insulin-stimulated tyrosine kinase activity. The kinase domains of the IR and IRR were found capable of phosphorylating the same spectrum of exogenous and endogenous substrates. However, Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably overexpressing the kinase domain of IRR exhibited elevated basal thymidine incorporation and 2-deoxyglucose uptake compared with CHO cells and CHO cells overexpressing wild-type IR. We conclude that: 1) IRR is expressed in the human kidney, heart, skeletal muscle, liver, and pancreas, 2) IRR does not appear to be the receptor of any known member of the insulin family, and 3) the tyrosine kinase of IRR appears to be similar to that of IR in both the spectrum of substrates phosphorylated and the biological responses stimulated.

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