Psammomys obesus fed a high-calorie diet develops a NIDDM-like syndrome. The use of reverse-phase highperformance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to study Psammomys insulin biosynthesis and release revealed a very delayed elution time for the Psammomys insulin peak appearing near the position of human proinsulin. This unusual peak was initially thought to represent partially processed insulin on the basis of its molecular size and susceptibility to trimming by carboxypeptidase B (CpB). However, the findings of an active carboxypeptidase E (CpE) enzyme and the normal amidated forms of gastrin and cholecystokinin octapeptide (CCK-8) in Psammomys tissues were inconsistent with CpE-related aberrant processing of insulin. Moreover, amino acid sequencing of the delayed peak of Psammomys insulin revealed fully processed insulin with amino acid sequence as predicted by the cDNA. The unique presence of a B-30 phenylalanine residue, resulting in an increased hydrophobicity of the insulin molecule, probably underlies the marked delay in elution time on HPLC. The unusual structure of Psammomys insulin does not appear to contribute to the proinsulinemia observed in diabetic Psammomys since the HPLC-purified molecule did not inhibit PCI and PC2 convertase activities in an in vitro assay.

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