Expressing a human proinsulin cDNA in a mouse ACTH-secreting cell. Intracellular storage, proteolytic processing, and secretion on stimulation

Cell. 1983 Dec;35(2 Pt 1):531-8. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(83)90187-3.


The AtT-20 cell line, derived from the mouse anterior pituitary, synthesizes an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) precursor, proteolytically processes it to mature ACTH, stores it in secretory granules, and releases mature ACTH on stimulation with a secretagogue. A cDNA for human proinsulin inserted downstream from the SV40 early promoter in an SV40-pBR322 recombinant vector was introduced into AtT-20 cells. The stably transformed cell line, AtT-20ins4b/1, stores immunoreactive insulin, proteolytically processes proinsulin to smaller fragments, and on stimulation with secretagogues releases insulin-like material, not proinsulin, into the medium. Similarly transformed fibroblast L-cells secrete only proinsulin; they do not store it, and their secretion rate is unaffected by secretagogues. The transport mechanism for precursor ACTH thus appears to recognize other prohormones.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • L Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / metabolism*
  • Plasmids
  • Proinsulin / genetics*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Transfection


  • Insulin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • DNA
  • Proinsulin