All-atom structural models of insulin binding to the insulin receptor in the presence of a tandem hormone-binding element.

Academic Article


  • Insulin regulates blood glucose levels in higher organisms by binding to and activating insulin receptor (IR), a constitutively homodimeric glycoprotein of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) superfamily. Therapeutic efforts in treating diabetes have been significantly impeded by the absence of structural information on the activated form of the insulin/IR complex. Mutagenesis and photo-crosslinking experiments and structural information on insulin and apo-IR strongly suggest that the dual-chain insulin molecule, unlike the related single-chain insulin-like growth factors, binds to IR in a very different conformation than what is displayed in storage forms of the hormone. In particular, hydrophobic residues buried in the core of the folded insulin molecule engage the receptor. There is also the possibility of plasticity in the receptor structure based on these data, which may in part be due to rearrangement of the so-called CT-peptide, a tandem hormone-binding element of IR. These possibilities provide opportunity for large-scale molecular modeling to contribute to our understanding of this system. Using various atomistic simulation approaches, we have constructed all-atom structural models of hormone/receptor complexes in the presence of CT in its crystallographic position and a thermodynamically favorable displaced position. In the "displaced-CT" complex, many more insulin-receptor contacts suggested by experiments are satisfied, and our simulations also suggest that R-insulin potentially represents the receptor-bound form of hormone. The results presented in this work have further implications for the design of receptor-specific agonists/antagonists.
  • Authors

  • Vashisth, Harish
  • Abrams, Cameron F
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • June 2013
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Insulin
  • Mice
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Mutation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Thermodynamics
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23348915
  • Start Page

  • 1017
  • End Page

  • 1030
  • Volume

  • 81
  • Issue

  • 6