The binding affinities of seven analogues of recombinant human insulin-like growth factor II (hIGF-II) were characterized for the IGF type-I and type-II receptors and insulin receptors, as well as for IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1, IGFBP-2, IGFPB-3 and human serum IGFBPs. A switch of two of the three cysteine bridges in hIGF-II, 9-47 and 46-51 to 9-46 and 47-51, severely impaired the binding of this analogue to all receptors and to the IGFBPs. The affinities for the IGF type-I receptor and the IGFBPs were decreased over 100-fold, while the binding to the insulin receptor and the IGF type-II receptor was less affected, with a 6-10-fold decrease in affinity. Slight modifications of the N-terminus had only minor effects upon the binding of hIGF-II to the IGFBPs or to the receptors. Deletion of both the N-terminal amino acid and the two C-terminal amino acids resulted in moderate decreases in affinity, with a 60% decrease in affinity for IGFBP-1 and the IGF type-I receptor. Acetylation of the N-terminus of Ala1 and the epsilon-nitrogen of Lys65 decreased the affinity, by 60-90%, of hIGF-II for all of the IGFBPs and receptors. The experiments involving acetylation of IGF-II or switching of its cysteine bridges indicated that these modifications (no substitution, deletion or addition of any of the 67 amino acids of hIGF-II) may lead to a severe impairment of the binding affinity of IGF-II for both the IGFBPs and the receptors. Acetylation of the epsilon-nitrogen of Lys65, which causes a charge change, or alteration of the three-dimensional structure, as shown by the cysteine bridge switch, lead to a severe impairment of the binding affinity for the binding proteins and for the receptors. In general, care should be taken with the synthesis of analogues and the interpretation of resulting binding data, since affinity alterations ascribed to amino acid changes may instead be caused by alterations of the charge or the three-dimensional structure of the protein.

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