We have studied a major product in the degradation of insulin by insulin proteinase (EC 3.4.22.11). Semisynthetic [[3H]PheB1]insulin and [[3H]GlyA1]insulin were used in the experiments. The structure of the fragment was deduced by observing the chromatographic and electrophoretic migration of the label both before and after further digestion of the fragment with proteinases of known specificity, with and without additional treatment by performic acid. Ambiguities were resolved by studying the behaviour of authentic fragments of known structure, isolated and characterized after digestion of intact insulin by proteinases of known specificity. We conclude that a major product in the degradation of insulin by insulin proteinase consists of a truncated section of the A chain, joined by the disulphide bridge B7-A7 to a truncated section of the B chain. The A-chain fragment consists most probably of residues A1-A13, and the B-chain fragment consists most probably of residues B1-B9. The similarity between this fragment and that found by other workers when insulin is degraded by intact hepatocytes is significant in the light of proposals that insulin proteinase is a possible participant in the physiological degradation of insulin by target cells.

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