Heterogeneity of expression and secretion of native and mutant [AspB10]lnsulin in AtT20 Cells

Sarah Ferber, David J. Gross, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Frank Danehy, Florence Vollenweider, Katharina Meyer, Mary R. Loeken, C. Ronald Kahn, Philippe A. Halban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AtT20 (pituitary corticotroph) cells were transfected with either the native or a mutant [AspB10]rat insulin II gene, using a plasmid containing the insulin gene and a neomycin resistance gene under the control of independent constitutive promoters. The cellular immunoreactive insulin (IRI) content ranged from 0.8–440 ng/106 cells, with the highest value similar to that found for a rat insulinoma cell line (RIN) and corresponding to approximately 1% that of native pancreatic B-cells. There was a direct correlation between insulin mRNA levels and IRI content and no correlation between mRNA levels and rat insulin II gene copy number. Furthermore, in some lines the insulin II transgene was lost even though the gene encoding neomycin resistance was retained. IRI release was stimulated up to 4-fold by isobutylmethylxanthine in all lines transfected with the native rat insulin II gene, and HPLC analysis showed most IRI as fully processed insulin, with less than 5% as proinsulin. These cells, thus, directed most proinsulin to secretory granules for conversion and regulated release regardless of the absolute amount of IRI expressed. One of the lines transfected with the AspB10 mutant gene (line AA9) released nearly 50% of IRI as proinsulin under basal conditions, with stimulation of insulin, but not proinsulin, release by isobutylmethylxanthine. This confirmed our previous finding of partial diversion of this mutant proinsulin from the regulated to the constitutive pathway. A second line (IC6) expressing the same mutant gene at much higher levels appeared to direct all mutant proinsulin to the regulated pathway, suggesting that for this particular mutant proinsulin, the secretory pathway employed by the transfected cells can be affected by the amount of proinsulin synthesized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes


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