Variations in skeletal muscle insulin signaling are thought to have important effects on in vivo glucose homeostasis. To address the role of the insulin receptor in insulin action in muscle, we overexpressed human insulin receptors in the skeletal muscle of transgenic mice. A muscle-specific transgene (TMPE/HIR) was constructed by using promotor and enhancer elements derived from the rat MLC1/3 locus coupled to the intact protein-coding region of the human insulin-receptor cDNA. After testing the transgene for expression in cultured C2C12 myotubes, six founder mice transgenic for TMPE/HIR were generated. We determined that one line of mice had significant expression of human insulin-receptor mRNA in skeletal muscle. The analysisof several tissues from these mice by immunoprecipitation of labeled insulin receptors with a human-specific antireceptor antibody, revealed exclusive expression of human insulin receptors in skeletal muscle. Using both human-specific and non-species-specific anti-insulin receptor antibodies, we developed two immunoassays capable of quantitating the relative amounts of human and total insulin receptors in muscle. Compared with nontransgenic littermate controls, the total number ofinsulin receptors was increased by 30% in heterozygous transgenics and 68% in homozygotes. Human insulin-receptor protein contributed substantially to the total insulin-receptor pool present in transgenic muscle (42% for heterozygotes, 61% for homozygotes). Intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests were performed with homozygous transgenic and nontransgenic littermate mice. Results with both approaches were significantly different for the two groups of mice, suggesting that the modest increase in insulin receptors in the muscle of transgenic mice causes a direct increase in insulin responsiveness. This study represents the first successful expression of human insulin receptors in transgenic mice. This model and others like it will provide valuable insights into the regulation of insulin-receptor expression and the role of insulin receptors in specific tissues or cell types in metabolism.

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