Catecholamine treatment of isolated rat adipocytes decreases insulin binding and inhibits insulin stimulation of the glucose-transport system. There is increasing evidence that the insulin signal is transmitted after insulin is bound to the receptor via a tyrosine kinase, which is an intrinsic part of the receptor. To find whether the receptor kinase is modified by catecholamines, we solubilized and partially purified the insulin receptor of isoprenaline-treated adipocytes and studied the effect of insulin on its kinase activity. (1) Insulin increased the tyrosine autophosphorylation of the insulin receptor kinase from catecholamine-treated cells only 4-fold, compared with a 12-fold stimulation in control cells. (2) The rate of insulin-stimulated 32P incorporation into the receptor of isoprenaline-treated cells at non-saturating [32P]ATP concentrations (5 muM) was decreased to 5-8% of the values for receptor from control cells. (3) 125I-insulin binding to the partially purified receptor from catecholamine-treated cells was also markedly decreased. The insulin receptor from catecholamine treated cells bound 25-50% of the amount of insulin bound by the receptor from control cells at insulin concentrations of 10 pM-0.1 muM. Part of the impaired insulin-responsiveness of the receptor kinase of catecholamine-treated cells is therefore explained by impaired binding properties; however, an additional inhibition of the kinase activity of the insulin receptor from catecholamine-treated cells is evident. (4) This inhibition of kinase activity decreased when the concentration of [gamma-32P]ATP in the phosphorylation assay was increased. A Lineweaver-Burk analysis revealed that the Km for ATP of the receptor kinase from isoprenaline-treated cells was increased to approx. 100 muM, compared with approx. 25 muM for receptor of control cells. (5) We conclude from the data that catecholamine treatment of rat adipocytes modulates the kinase activity of the insulin receptor by increasing its Km for ATP and that this is part of the mechanism leading to insulin-resistance in these cells.

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