The insulin receptor possesses an insulin-stimulated tyrosine-kinase activity; however, the significance of receptor phosphorylation in terms of the binding and signaling function of the receptor is unclear. To help clarify this problem, we have studied insulin binding and receptor phosphorylation in a Cloudman S91 melanoma cell line and two of its variants: the wild type (1A) in which insulin inhibits cell growth, an insulin-resistant variant (111) in which insulin neither stimulates or inhibits growth, and a variant (46) in which insulin stimulates cell growth. 125I-insulin binding to intact cells was similar for the wild-type 1A and insulin-stimulated variant 46. The insulin-resistant variant 111, in contrast, showed approximately 30% decrease in insulin binding. This was due to a decrease of receptor affinity with no major difference in receptor number. When the melanoma cells were solubilized in 1% Triton X-100 and the insulin receptor was partially purified by chromatography on wheat germ agglutinin-agarose, a similar pattern of binding was observed. Phosphorylation was studied by incubation of the partially purified receptor with insulin and [gamma-32P]ATP, and the receptor was identified by immunoprecipitation and NaDodSO4 PAGE. Insulin stimulated phosphorylation of the 95,000-mol-wt beta-subunit of the receptor in all three cells types with similar kinetics. The amount of 32P incorporated into the beta-subunit in the insulin-resistant cell line 111 was approximately 50% of that observed with the two other cell lines. This difference was reflected throughout the entire dose-response curve (10(-9) M to 10(-6) M). Qualitatively similar results were obtained when phosphorylation was studied in the intact cell. Peptide mapping of the beta-subunit using tryptic digestion and reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography column separation indicated three sites of phosphorylation in receptor from the wild type and variant 46, but only two major sites of phosphorylation of variant 111. These data suggest that the insulin-resistant variant melanoma 111 possesses a specific defect in the insulin receptor which alters both its binding and autophosphorylation properties, and also suggests a possible role of receptor phosphorylation in both the binding and the signaling function of the insulin receptor.

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