Characteristics of insulin receptors in a human lymphoblastoid cell line (Raji).
Dunn, Rosanne Dorothy.
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The notion that insulin binds to a specific site on the cell membrane was first proposed many years ago. However, experimental proof of a membrane bound insulin receptor did not come until the early 1970s when biologically active radiolabelled insulin was used in direct binding studies (Cuatrecasas, 1971). Recent advances in understanding the mechanism of insulin action are the result of studies on the structure and function of the insulin receptor. The membrane receptor would appear to have two functions: firstly, it must bind insulin and secondly, it must couple insulin binding to insulin action. Defects in either of these receptor functions will result in an impaired response to insulin, or insulin resistance (Taylor, 1985). Insulin resistance is a common disorder in a number of disease states in man. For example, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and obesity are associated with mild insulin resistance (Bar et aZ., 1976). There are also a number of relatively rare syndromes of extreme insulin resistance in which there is either impaired receptor function, or an immunological defect resulting in the development of auto-antibodies against the insulin receptor (Taylor et aZ., 1985).Studies on insulin receptor defects associated with these disease states have led to progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of insulin action. Ideally when investigating these disease states one should study insulin action on classical target cells such as adipocytes, hepatocytes or muscle. However, it is now well established that the kinetics of insulin binding to its membrane receptor is similar in all human tissue whether or not it is a target for insulin action. This has led to a great deal of research on the more accessible human tissues such as monocytes, erythrocytes, cultured fibroblasts and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transformed B-Iymphocytes. The most convenient tissue to study is EBV transformed B-Iymphocytes, as these cells can be taken from individual patients and grown in culture in large quantities, which facilitates biochemical studies. Despite these advantages, it is important to establish that this virus-induced receptor is a true insulin receptor and not an artifact of viral transformation. Studies on B-Iymphocyte proliferation have shown that the insulin receptor appears on the cell membrane during the proliferative phase of B-cell activation. However , this is a transient event and once the cell reaches maturation the insulin receptor is no longer evident (Marchalonis & Galbraith, 1987). The insulin receptor has also been demonstrated in a number of cultured human lymphoblastoid cell lines (Gavin et aL, 1983; Maegawa et aL, 1983). It seems, therefore, that the insulin receptor is normally expressed by blast cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate insulin binding characteristics on a human lymphoblastoid cell line with B-cell characteristics which was originally derived from a patient with Burkitt's lymphoma. These cells, which are known as Raji cells, are unusual in that they carry multiple copies of the EBV genome in their DNA. For this reason they provide a useful model system for studying the insulin receptor in EBV transformed lymphocytes. In addition, studies on the mechanism of insulin action in these cells should give some insight into the function of the insulin receptor during B-cell proliferation. In this study four major characteristics of insulin binding to insulin receptors on Raji cells are described. Firstly, on the basis of kinetic studies a model for insulin-receptor interaction was established. Secondly, processing of insulin and the receptor was investigated to determine whether the receptor is functional. A third aspect was elucidation of the receptor structure and the insulin binding site. Finally, the cross-reaction between insulin and type I IGF receptors was studied, and the cellular response mediated by the insulin receptor and growth factor receptor was determined.