Covalently linked insulin dimers have been prepared by cross-linking two insulin monomers with a flexible suberoyl chain at either the B1 phenylalanine or the B29 lysine residue. Binding potencies of dimers determined by inhibition of binding of 125I-insulin to isolated rat liver plasma membranes or adipocytes were 2.5-7-fold greater than their abilities to stimulate lipogenesis in adipocytes. Rates of liver plasma-membrane-associated degradation of labelled insulin and dimers, measured by gel filtration, were similar at 37 degrees C. Binding and lipogenesis potencies of dimers prepared by substitution of each monomeric half of an asymmetrical dimer with desoctapeptide insulin, an almost inactive derivative, implicated the B1-cross-linked monomeric half as predominantly interacting with the insulin receptor. These results suggest that (1) dimers bind univalently to a bivalent insulin-receptor complex, in which the two individual binding subunits are arranged with anti-parallel symmetry and (2) the mechanism by which insulin binds and initiates its biological responses requires a conformational change within the insulin-receptor complex and/or in the insulin molecule for full biological expression.

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