How insulin binds to and triggers the insulin receptor (IR) represents a fundamental problem at the intersection of basic science and clinical medicine. This application, building on a long-term program of research by a team of investigators, promises to provide a new foundation for analysis of structure-function relationships. Prior progress in the field was limited by the absence of a crystal structure of the hormone-IR complex. In accordance with the Aims of the last renewal, collaborative crystal structures have been obtained of (i) the primary hormone-binding surface of the receptor ectodomain (""""""""Site 1"""""""";Smith, B.J. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 6771-6 (2010)) and (ii) insulin bound to Site 1 (the """"""""micro-receptor"""""""" complex;Menting, J.G. et al. Nature, 493, 241-5 (2013)). The physiological significance of these structures have been validated in the context of the holo-receptor (a) through site-specific photo-cross-linking studies (Xu, B., et al. J. Biol. Chem. 284, 14597-08 (2009)) """"""""Paper of the Week"""""""" and (b) by mutagenesis with application to monogenic syndromes of diabetes mellitus associated with mutations in insulin or its receptor (Whittaker, J., et al. Prc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 11166 (2012)). We request continued NIH support to address the following Specific Aims.
Aim 1. Functional Mapping of the Functional Surfaces of Insulin. We will employ mutagenesis and residue-specific photo-cross-linking to map the cognate Site-1 and Site-2 binding surfaces of insulin and the IR.
Aim 2 Structure of a Model Hormone-Receptor Complex. We seek to improve the resolution and completeness of the micro-receptor structure through synthesis of heavy-atom derivatives of insulin and design of ultra-stable insulin analogs. Inferred structure-function relationships will be tested by non-standard protein design.
Aim 3. Biophysical Probes of the Micro-Receptor and Successive Complexes. Two biophysical probes of structure and dynamics will be employed: (a) TROSY-based heteronuclear NMR studies of the micro-receptor complex at 900 MHz and (b) synchrotron-based hydroxyl-radical footprinting (with MS-MS detection) of the micro-receptor and larger receptor fragments, culminating in comparative studies of the holoreceptor.
Aim 4. Toward the Structure of a Hormone-Ectodomain Complex. As a long-term goal, we seek to extend our collaboration with M. Lawrence (Melbourne, AU) to a crystal structure of a hormone-ectodomain complex. Together, these Aims represent the culmination of a 25-year program of research that has sought to combine basic science and its potential translation. Insulin and the insulin receptor represent an ancestral signaling system in metazoans of central importance to human health. My colleagues and I are grateful to the Study Section and NIDDK for making this continuing adventure possible.

Public Health Relevance

How insulin binds to and triggers the insulin receptor represents a major unsolved problem in cell biology and medicine with broad implications for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. This program of research seeks both to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which such binding and signaling occurs. An interdisciplinary approach is proposed combining biochemical, biophysical and structural techniques.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
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Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology Study Section (MCE)
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Sechi, Salvatore
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Case Western Reserve University
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Pandyarajan, Vijay; Phillips, Nelson B; Rege, Nischay et al. (2016) Contribution of TyrB26 to the Function and Stability of Insulin: STRUCTURE-ACTIVITY RELATIONSHIPS AT A CONSERVED HORMONE-RECEPTOR INTERFACE. J Biol Chem 291:12978-90
Dhayalan, Balamurugan; Fitzpatrick, Ann; Mandal, Kalyaneswar et al. (2016) Efficient Total Chemical Synthesis of (13) C=(18) O Isotopomers of Human Insulin for Isotope-Edited FTIR. Chembiochem 17:415-20
Croll, Tristan I; Smith, Brian J; Margetts, Mai B et al. (2016) Higher-Resolution Structure of the Human Insulin Receptor Ectodomain: Multi-Modal Inclusion of the Insert Domain. Structure 24:469-76
Cui, Jingqiu; Chen, Wei; Sun, Jinhong et al. (2015) Competitive Inhibition of the Endoplasmic Reticulum Signal Peptidase by Non-cleavable Mutant Preprotein Cargos. J Biol Chem 290:28131-40
Whittaker, Jonathan (2015) Receptor activation with a twist (comment on DOI 10.1002/bies.201500041). Bioessays 37:935
Pandyarajan, Vijay; Smith, Brian J; Phillips, Nelson B et al. (2014) Aromatic anchor at an invariant hormone-receptor interface: function of insulin residue B24 with application to protein design. J Biol Chem 289:34709-27
Menting, John G; Yang, Yanwu; Chan, Shu Jin et al. (2014) Protective hinge in insulin opens to enable its receptor engagement. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:E3395-404
Avital-Shmilovici, Michal; Whittaker, Jonathan; Weiss, Michael A et al. (2014) Deciphering a molecular mechanism of neonatal diabetes mellitus by the chemical synthesis of a protein diastereomer, [D-AlaB8]human proinsulin. J Biol Chem 289:23683-92
Pandyarajan, Vijay; Phillips, Nelson B; Cox, Gabriela P et al. (2014) Biophysical optimization of a therapeutic protein by nonstandard mutagenesis: studies of an iodo-insulin derivative. J Biol Chem 289:23367-81
Menting, John G; Whittaker, Jonathan; Margetts, Mai B et al. (2013) How insulin engages its primary binding site on the insulin receptor. Nature 493:241-5

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