Dithiothreitol activation of the insulin receptor/kinase does not involve subunit dissociation of the native alpha 2 beta 2 insulin receptor subunit complex

Biochemistry. 1986 Nov 4;25(22):7068-74. doi: 10.1021/bi00370a047.


The subunit composition of the dithiothreitol- (DTT) activated insulin receptor/kinase was examined by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and gel filtration chromatography under denaturing (0.1% SDS) or nondenaturing (0.1% Triton X-100) conditions. Pretreatment of 32P-labeled insulin receptors with 50 mM DTT followed by gel filtration chromatography in 0.1% SDS demonstrated the dissociation of the alpha 2 beta 2 insulin receptor complex (Mr 400,000) into the monomeric 95,000 beta subunit. In contrast, pretreatment of the insulin receptors with 1-50 mM DTT followed by gel filtration chromatography in 0.1% Triton X-100 resulted in no apparent alteration in mobility compared to the untreated insulin receptors. Resolution of this complex by nonreducing SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiography demonstrated the existence of the alpha 2 beta 2 heterotetrameric complex with essentially no alpha beta heterodimeric or free monomeric beta subunit species present. This suggests that the insulin receptor can reoxidize into the Mr 400,000 complex after the removal of DTT by gel filtration chromatography. Surprisingly, these apparently reoxidized insulin receptors were also observed to be functional with respect to insulin binding, albeit with a 50% decrease in affinity for insulin and insulin stimulation of the beta subunit autophosphorylation. To prevent reoxidation, the insulin receptors were pretreated with 50 mM DTT followed by incubation with excess N-ethylmaleimide prior to gel filtration chromatography in 0.1% Triton X-100. Under these conditions the insulin receptors migrated as the Mr 400,000 alpha 2 beta 2 complex.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Dithiothreitol / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Placenta / enzymology
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Insulin / drug effects
  • Receptor, Insulin / isolation & purification
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism*


  • Insulin
  • insulin, iodo-
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Dithiothreitol