Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) and Receptors

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I (also known as somatomedin C and somatomedin A) and IGF-II (multiplication stimulating activity or MSA) belong to the family of insulin-like growth factors that are structurally homologous to proinsulin. Mature IGF-I and IGF-II share approximately 70% sequence identity. Both IGF-I and IGF-II are expressed in many tissues and cell types and may have autocrine, paracrine and endocrine functions. Mature IGF-I and IGF-II are highly conserved between the human, bovine and porcine proteins (100% identity), and exhibit cross-species activity.

IGF-I receptor is a disulfide-linked heterotetrameric transmembrane protein consisting of two alpha and two beta subunits. Both the alpha and beta subunits are encoded within a single receptor precursor cDNA. The proreceptor polypeptide is proteolytically cleaved and disulfide-linked to yield the mature heterotetrameric receptor. The alpha subunit of IGF-I receptor is extracellular while the beta subunit has an extracellular domain, a transmembrane domain and a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain. The IGF-I receptor is highly expressed in all cell types and tissues.

The superfamily of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding proteins include the six high-affinity IGF binding proteins (IGFBP) and at least four additional low-affinity binding proteins referred to as IGFBP related proteins (IGFBP-rP). All IGFBP superfamily members are cysteine-rich proteins with conserved cysteine residues, which are clustered in the amino- and carboxy-terminal thirds of the molecule. IGFBPs modulate the biological activities of IGF proteins. Some IGFBPs may also have intrinsic bioactivity that is independent of their ability to bind IGF proteins. Post-translational modifications of IGFBP, including glycosylation, phosphorylation and proteolysis, have been shown to modify the affinities of the binding proteins to IGF. ALS (Acid Labile Subunit) is a liver-derived protein that exists in a ternary complex with Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)-binding Protein-3 (IGFBP-3) or IGFBP-5, and either IGF-I or IGF-II. ALS increases the half-life of IGF/IGFBP complexes in circulation.