A photosensitive derivative of radiolabeled insulin, SANAH-125I-insulin, was prepared by reacting N-succinimidyl-6-(4'-azido-2'-nitrophenylamino) hexanoate (SANAH) with 125I-insulin. Cultured IM-9 cells were incubated with SANAH-125I-insulin at 16 degrees C in the dark. They were then washed, photolyzed, solubilized, and analyzed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiography. Under disulfide reducing conditions, a single specific band of Mr 125,000 was obtained. The characteristics of the labeling of this band with SANAH-125I-insulin (specificity, time course, concentration effect) were the same as that of 125I-insulin interaction with the IM-9 cells and the labeling process did not affect cell viability. The solubilized photolabeled insulin receptor fraction was enriched by first adsorbing to agarose-bound wheat germ agglutinin and the material eluted with N-acetyl-D-glucosamine was then analyzed by SDS-PAGE and autoradiography. Under nonreducing conditions, a major receptor band of Mr 320 K and a minor band of 280 K were obtained. Upon disulfide bond reduction with increasing concentrations of dithiothreitol, a major band of Mr 125 K and two minor bands of Mr 210 K and 94 K were seen. When cells photolabeled at 16° were further incubated at 37°, there was a time-dependent loss of intact receptors into the incubation buffer. In contrast, no similar shedding of labeled receptors was observed from isolated rat adipocytes. Following shedding, the labeled IM-9 insulin receptors rapidly disappeared from the incubation buffer (half-time ∼ 1.5 h). These results demonstrate the feasibility of photoaffinity labeling, characterizing, and following the fate of insulin receptor in viable cells. Thus receptor photoaffinity labeling should provide a suitable approach for studies of the biologic fate of insulin receptors in cells that are targets for insulin action.

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