The biological activities of an acidic form of non-suppressible insulin-like activity (ILA pI 4.8) have been studied. ILA pI 4.8 was isolated from Cohn fraction IV-1 of human serum by pH 5.5 ion-exchange chromatography on SP-Sephadex. Carrier-bound ILA was eluted at pH 9.7 and then sequentially gel chromatographed in 1% formic acid on Sephadex G-75 and Bio-Gel P-30. The low-Mr (7000) active material was subjected to flat bed isoelectric focusing. Overall recovery was 87 munit of insulin equivalents/100 g of Cohn fraction IV-1, with a specific activity in the range 4-10 munit/mg of protein, representing a purity of 1-6%. This material has been tested in a variety of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)/somatomedin assay systems. It stimulated, in a dose-related manner, [14C]glucose conversion into lipid by isolated rat adipocytes, 35SO4(2-) incorporation into weanling rat costal cartilage and [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA of cultured human fibroblasts. Like IGF-I and -II, ILA pI 4.8 was able to inhibit degradation of 125I-insulin by crude homogenates of rat liver. In addition, the biological activity of ILA pI 4.8 was completely suppressible by a recently described inhibitor of IGF-I and IGF-II. ILA pI 4.8 was able to compete, in a parallel manner, with 125I-IGF-I and 125I-IGF-II and, at higher doses, with 125I-insulin in a placental radioreceptor assay. No cross-reactivity was seen in a radioimmunoassay for IGF-I and -II C-peptides, but at higher concentrations parallel displacement was observed in a somatomedin C/IGF-I radioimmunoassay using two different antisera. These data indicate that ILA pI 4.8 does possess many of the biological activities previously reported for the IGFs. Since ILA pI 4.8 does occur naturally in serum, it would appear reasonable to tentatively include it as one of the IGF/somatomedin family.

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