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Structures of insect Imp-L2 suggest an alternative strategy for regulating the bioavailability of insulin-like hormones

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JournalNature Communications
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2018
DatePublished (current) - 21 Sep 2018
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


The insulin/insulin-like growth factor signalling axis is an evolutionary ancient and highly conserved hormonal system involved in the regulation of metabolism, growth and lifespan in animals. Human insulin is stored in the pancreas, while insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is maintained in blood in complexes with IGF-binding proteins (IGFBP1–6). Insect insulin-like polypeptide binding proteins (IBPs) have been considered as IGFBP-like structural and functional homologues. Here, we report structures of the Drosophila IBP Imp-L2 in its free form and bound to Drosophila insulin-like peptide 5 and human IGF-1. Imp-L2 contains two immunoglobulin-like fold domains and its architecture is unrelated to human IGFBPs, suggesting a distinct strategy for bioavailability regulation of insulin-like hormones. Similar hormone binding modes may exist in other insect vectors, as the IBP sequences are highly conserved. Therefore, these findings may open research routes towards a rational interference of transmission of diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fevers.

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© The Author(s) 2018

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