The effects of insulin and anti-(insulin receptor) monoclonal antibodies on tyrosine phosphorylation were investigated in fibroblasts transfected with human insulin receptor cDNA (NIH 3T3HIR3.5 cells) using anti-phosphotyrosine immunoblotting. Insulin increased levels of tyrosine phosphorylation in two major proteins of molecular mass 97 kDa (pp97, assumed to be the insulin receptor beta-subunit) and 185 kDa (pp185). Insulin-mimetic anti-receptor antibodies also stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of both pp97 and pp185. The observation of antibody-stimulated pp97 phosphorylation, as detected by immunoblotting, is in contrast with previous data which failed to show receptor autophosphorylation in NIH 3T3HIR3.5 cells labelled with [32P]P1. The effect of insulin on pp97 was maximal within 1 min, but the response to antibody was apparent only after a lag of 1-2 min and rose steadily over 20 min. The absolute level of antibody-stimulated phosphorylation of both pp97 and pp185 after 20 min was only about 20% of the maximum level induced by equivalent concentrations of insulin, even at concentrations of antibody sufficient for full occupancy of receptors. Another insulin-mimetic agent, wheat-germ agglutinin, stimulated receptor autophosphorylation with kinetics similar to those produced by the antibody. It is suggested that the relatively slow responses to both agents may be a function of the dependence on receptor cross-linking. These data are consistent with a role for the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity in the mechanism of action of insulin-mimetic anti-receptor antibodies.

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