Role of zinc in insulin biosynthesis. Some possible zinc-insulin interactions in the pancreatic B-cell

Diabetologia. 1980 Sep;19(3):174-82. doi: 10.1007/BF00275265.


The behaviour of proinsulin and insulin in the presence of zinc suggests it plays an important role in insulin's production in the B-cell for the vast majority of animal species. The postulate that proinsulin forms a zinc containing hexamer soon after its synthesis and that this organization of the molecule is maintained through all the subsequent processes is supported by our observation that the proinsulin hexamer is converted readily into the insulin hexamer. In addition the zinc ions enhance proinsulin's solubility and render insulin insoluble. Zinc ions also appear to play an important role in the microcrystalline character of the precipitated insulin granule. There may be advantages in condensing the stored material in this way; it will reduce contact with the surrounding membrane where the converting, and possibly other enzymes, are thought to be located, and it will tend to exclude incompletely converted hexamers.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Insulin / biosynthesis*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Proinsulin / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Trypsin / metabolism
  • X-Ray Diffraction
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Insulin
  • Proinsulin
  • Trypsin
  • Zinc