Nature structural & molecular biology | 13 Sep 2016
JG Menting, J Gajewiak, CA MacRaild, DH Chou, MM Disotuar, NA Smith, C Miller, J Erchegyi, JE Rivier, BM Olivera, BE Forbes, BJ Smith, RS Norton, H Safavi-Hemami and MC Lawrence
Insulins in the venom of certain fish-hunting cone snails facilitate prey capture by rapidly inducing hypoglycemic shock. One such insulin, Conus geographus G1 (Con-Ins G1), is the smallest known insulin found in nature and lacks the C-terminal segment of the B chain that, in human insulin, mediates engagement of the insulin receptor and assembly of the hormone’s hexameric storage form. Removal of this segment (residues B23-B30) in human insulin results in substantial loss of receptor affinity. Here, we found that Con-Ins G1 is monomeric, strongly binds the human insulin receptor and activates receptor signaling. Con-Ins G1 thus is a naturally occurring B-chain-minimized mimetic of human insulin. Our crystal structure of Con-Ins G1 reveals a tertiary structure highly similar to that of human insulin and indicates how Con-Ins G1’s lack of an equivalent to the key receptor-engaging residue Phe(B24) is mitigated. These findings may facilitate efforts to design ultrarapid-acting therapeutic insulins.
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