Although non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is associated with defects in insulin action, the molecular basis of this resistance is unknown. We studied fibroblasts from a markedly insulin-resistant patient with NIDDM but without acanthosis nigricans. Her fibroblasts were resistant to insulin when α-aminoisobutyric acid uptake was measured. Fibroblasts from this patient demonstrated normal insulin-receptor content as measured by both insulin-receptor radioimmunoassay and by Scatchard analysis. However, when compared with nondiabetic control subjects, insulin-receptor kinase assays of wheat-germ–purified receptors prepared from her fibroblasts showed very low basal and no insulin-stimulated tyrosine kinase activity. The insulin receptor was then removed from the wheat-germ fraction by monoclonal antibody affinity chromatography. This insulin-receptor–deficient fraction inhibited both basal and insulin-stimulated tyrosine kinase activity of highly purified insulin receptors. When the specificity of this inhibition was tested, less inhibition was seen with insulinlike growth factor I–receptor tyrosine kinase, and even less inhibition was seen with the proto-oncogene p60c-src tyrosine kinase. Thus, these studies indicate that fibroblasts from an insulin-resistant patient with NIDDM produce a relatively specific glycoprotein inhibitor of insulin-receptor tyrosine kinase. Therefore, these studies raise the possibility that this inhibitor may play an important role in the insulin resistance seen in this patient.

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