We have studied the functional and structural characteristics of insulin receptors on cultured rat hypothalamic cells. The receptors on these cells are specific for insulin, but have a lower binding affinity than that measured in nonneuronal tissues. Neither acute (2-h) nor long term (24-h) exposure of the hypothalamic cells to high insulin concentrations resulted in receptor down-regulation. However, insulin is internalized in these cells and accumulated in the presence of the lysomotropic agent chloroquine. Acute exposure to insulin does not alter initial rate of 2-deoxyglucose transport in hypothalamic cells, but does cause a stimulation of aminoisobutyric acid uptake. Photoaffinity labeling of the receptors of the hypothalamic cells with a biologically active photosensitive insulin revealed a major specifically labeled band of 115K mol wt and a minor band of 40K mol wt under disulfide-reducing conditions compared to bands of 125K and 90K mol wt seen after labeling of the insulin receptors of adipocytes. The receptor proteins in hypothalamic cells under nonreducing conditions (420K, 370K, and 310K mol wt) were also smaller than those in adipocytes. Thus, the insulin receptors of cultured hypothalamic cells differ from insulin receptors on peripheral target tissues in both functional and structural aspects.
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