Zinc alters the kinetics of IGF-II binding to cell surface receptors and binding proteins

Robert H. McCusker, Rebecca L. Mateski, Jan E Novakofski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growth of most tissues is markedly depressed as a result of zinc deficiency by uncharacterized mechanisms that clearly involve the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system. Herein, we describe the mechanism by which zinc (Zn2+) maintains IGF-II in an active form by directly regulating IGF-II binding to IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) and the type 1 IGF receptor (IGF-1R). The specificity of Zn2+ effects was confirmed by using other cations that can (Cd2+ and Au3+) or cannot (La 3+) mimic Zn2+ actions. Human fibroblasts, glioblastoma cells, and murine myoblasts were used to determine the kinetics of IGF-II binding to cell surface IGFBP-3, IGFBP-5, and the IGF-1R, respectively. Zn 2+, Cd2+, and Au3+, but not La3+, decreased total binding and the affinity for [125I]IGF-II association with IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5. These effects were a result of lowered rate of ligand association without affecting rate of dissociation. In contrast, Zn2+ enhanced [125I]IGF-II binding to the IGF-1R by enhancing the rate of ligand association and decreasing the rate of dissociation. Our previous work had shown that Zn2+ acts at physiological levels to alter IGF binding. Together with the current work, these findings imply that Zn2+ acts in vivo to prevent secreted IGF-II from binding to IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-5, thus maintaining IGF-II in an "active state," i.e., readily available for IGF-1R association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003


  • Affinity
  • Association rate
  • IGF
  • IGF-1R
  • Kinetics
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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