Protein synthesis in rat L6 myoblasts is stimulated and protein breakdown inhibited in a co-ordinate manner by insulin-like growth factors (IGF) or insulin. For both processes, bovine IGF-1 was somewhat more potent than human IGF-1, which was effective at a tenth the concentration of insulin, rat IGF-2 or human IGF-2. A similar order of potency is noted when DNA synthesis or protein accumulation is monitored over a 24 h period, but between 20- and 50-fold higher concentrations of each growth factor are required than those needed to produce effects in the 4 h protein-synthesis or -breakdown measurements. Binding experiments with labelled human or bovine IGF-1 as ligand demonstrated competition at concentrations of IGF-2, especially human IGF-2, lower than that of either IGF-1 preparation. This pattern was much more pronounced when the radioligand was either human IGF-2 or rat IGF-2. Insulin competed 10-15% for the binding of labelled IGF-1, but not at all with labelled IGF-2. Ligand-receptor cross-linking experiments showed that labelled bovine IGF-1 bound approximately equally to the type 1 IGF receptor (Mr 130000 after reduction) and to the type 2 IGF receptor (Mr 270000 after reduction), and that unlabelled IGF-1 competed equally with radioligand binding to both receptors. On the other hand, rat IGF-2 competed more effectively for binding to the type-2 receptor, and insulin competed only for binding to the type-1 receptor. Further cross-linking experiments with rat IGF-2 as radioligand demonstrated binding only to the type-2 receptor and to proteins with Mr values after reduction of 230000 and 200000. This binding was prevented by high rat IGF-2 concentrations, less effectively by bovine IGF-1 and not at all by insulin. The apparently conflicting biological potencies and receptor binding of the different growth factors can be explained if all the biological actions are mediated via the type-1 IGF receptor, rather than through the abundant type-2 receptor.

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