An insulin-degrading enzyme has been purified from human erythrocytes. This enzyme degraded 125I-labeled insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) more slowly than 125I—IGF-II and degraded IGF-II more slowly than 125I-insulin. The time course of 125I-insulin degradation suggested the presence of intermediates, each of which wasitself shown to be a substrate for the enzyme. One of these intermediates appeared to be made up entirely of B-chain residues and had HisB10 as its NH2-terminal. The final major radiolabeled degradation product of A14-[125I]monoiodoinsulin was a peptide with TyrA14 at the A-chain NH2 terminal. This peptide could be reduced with dithiothreitol, suggesting that it contained amino acid residues from both A- and B-chains. It was partially precipitated by trichloroacetic acid and anti-insulin antibody but bound poorly to IM-9 lymphocytes. The final major degradation product of B26-[125I]monoiodoinsulin was a peptide whose NH2-terminal was TyrB26 and could not be reduced by dithiothreitol. It was partially precipitated by anti-insulin antibody but was precipitated poorly, if at all, by trichloroacetic acid and bound poorly to IM-9 lymphocytes. The results show that this enzyme degraded insulin by sequential cleavage of peptide bonds on both A- and B-chains. We identified LeuA13-TyrA14, SerB9-HisB10, and PheB25-TyrB26 as three of the bonds that are cleaved.

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