A leucine-to-proline mutation in the insulin receptor in a family with insulin resistance.
We have determined the primary structure of a mutant insulin receptor of a leprechaun patient born from a consanguineous marriage. A characteristic feature of leprechaunism is an extreme resistance to insulin. In this patient the insulin resistance seems to result from an observed lack of insulin binding to intact cells. Solubilization of cells in non-ionic detergents leads to the appearance of insulin receptors which can bind insulin. However, the insulin-stimulated autophosphorylation of the receptor's beta subunit is markedly reduced. Cloning and sequencing of cDNA derived from insulin receptor mRNA of this patient revealed a leucine-to-proline mutation at position 233 in the alpha subunit. By means of DNA amplification we found that the patient is homozygous for this mutation and that the parents and two grandparents from the consanguineous line are heterozygous. The heterozygous individuals all show decreased insulin binding to cultured fibroblasts. In addition, they are mildly insulin resistant in vivo. These observations show a linkage between the leucine-to-proline mutation and the observed insulin resistance in this family. We therefore conclude that the mutation in the homozygous form is responsible for the extreme insulin resistance in the leprechaun patient. The mutation for the first time characterizes a region in the insulin receptor which seems to be involved in transmitting the insulin binding signal to the tyrosine kinase domain.