Purification and structural characterization of insulin and glucagon from the bichir Polypterus senegalis (Actinopterygii: Polypteriformes)

J. Michael Conlon, Haiyun Fan, Bernd Fritzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The Polypteriformes (bichirs and reedfish) are a family of ray-tinned fishes of ancient lineage. Insulin has been isolated from an extract of the pancreas and upper gastrointestinal tract of the bichir Polypterus senegalis and its primary structure established as A-chain: Gly-Ile-Val-Glu-Gln-Cys- Cys-Asp-Thr-Pro10-Cys-Ser- Leu-Tyr-Asp-Leu-Glu-Asn-Tyr-Cys20-Asn; B- chain: Ala-Ala-Asn-Arg-His-Leu-Cys-Gly-Ser-His10-Leu- Val-Glu-Ala-Leu-Tyr- Leu-Val-Cys-Gly20-Asn-Arg-Gly-Phe-Phe-Tyr-Ile-Pro-Ser-Lys30-Met. Despite the fact that Polypterus insulin contains several unusual structural features that are not found in insulins from other jawed fish (Asp at A-8, Thr at A- 9, Arg at B-4, Asn at B-21, Ile at B-27, Met at B-31), all the residues in human insulin that are involved in receptor binding, dimerization, and hexamerization have been conserved. A comparison of the structures of insulins from a range of species indicates that Polypterus insulin most closely resembles paddlefish insulin II (seven amino acid substitutions). In contrast, Polypterus glucagon (His-Ser- Gln-Gly-Thr-Phe-Thr-Asn-Asp-Tyr10- Thr-Lys-Tyr- Gln-Asp-Ser-Arg-Arg-Ala-Gln20-Asp-Phe-Val-Gln-Trp-Leu-Met- Ser-Asn) most closely resembles the glucagons from the gar Lepisosteus spatula and the bowfin Amia calva (four amino acid substitutions). The data are consistent with the conclusion based on comparison of morphological characteristics that the Polypterids are the most basal living group of the Actinopterygians with evolutionary connections to both the Acipenserids and the Neopterygians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jan 1998


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