Structure of human insulin in presence of urea at pH 6.5
[INS_HUMAN] Defects in INS are the cause of familial hyperproinsulinemia (FHPRI) [MIM:176730].    Defects in INS are a cause of diabetes mellitus insulin-dependent type 2 (IDDM2) [MIM:125852]. IDDM2 is a multifactorial disorder of glucose homeostasis that is characterized by susceptibility to ketoacidosis in the absence of insulin therapy. Clinical fetaures are polydipsia, polyphagia and polyuria which result from hyperglycemia-induced osmotic diuresis and secondary thirst. These derangements result in long-term complications that affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. Defects in INS are a cause of diabetes mellitus permanent neonatal (PNDM) [MIM:606176]. PNDM is a rare form of diabetes distinct from childhood-onset autoimmune diabetes mellitus type 1. It is characterized by insulin-requiring hyperglycemia that is diagnosed within the first months of life. Permanent neonatal diabetes requires lifelong therapy.  Defects in INS are a cause of maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 10 (MODY10) [MIM:613370]. MODY10 is a form of diabetes that is characterized by an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance, onset in childhood or early adulthood (usually before 25 years of age), a primary defect in insulin secretion and frequent insulin-independence at the beginning of the disease.  
[INS_HUMAN] Insulin decreases blood glucose concentration. It increases cell permeability to monosaccharides, amino acids and fatty acids. It accelerates glycolysis, the pentose phosphate cycle, and glycogen synthesis in liver.
Publication Abstract from PubMed
BACKGROUND: Insulin is a therapeutic protein that is widely used for the treatment of diabetes. Its biological function was discovered more than 80 years ago and it has since then been characterized extensively. Crystallization of the insulin molecule has always been a key activity since the protein is often administered by subcutaneous injections of crystalline insulin formulations. Over the years, insulin has been crystallized and characterized in a number of crystal systems. RESULTS: Interestingly, we have now discovered two new crystal forms of human insulin. The crystals were obtained when the two chaotropic agents, urea and thiocyanate were present in the crystallization experiments, and their structures were determined by X-ray crystallography. The crystals belong to the orthorhombic and monoclinic crystal systems, with space groups C2221 and C2 respectively. The orthorhombic crystals were obtained at pH 6.5 and contained three insulin hexamers in R6 conformation in the asymmetric unit whilst the monoclinic C2 crystals were obtained at pH 7.0 and contained one R6 hexamer in the asymmetric unit. Common for the two new crystals is a hexamer-hexamer interaction that has not been found in any of the previous crystal forms of insulin. The contacts involve a tight glutamate-glutamate interaction with a distance of 2.3 A between groups. The short distance suggests a low barrier hydrogen bond. In addition, two tyrosine-tyrosine interactions occupying a known phenol binding pocket contribute to the stabilization of the contacts. Within the crystals, distinct binding sites for urea were found, adding further to the discussion on the role of urea in protein denaturation. CONCLUSION: The change in space group from C2221 to C2 was primarily caused by an increase in pH. The fewer number of hexamer-hexamer interactions comprising the short hydrogen bond in the C2 space group suggest that pH is the driving force. In addition, the distance between the two glutamates increases from 2.32 A in the C2221 crystals to 2.4 A in the C2 crystals. However, in both cases the low barrier hydrogen bond and the tyrosine-tyrosine interaction should contribute to the stability of the crystals which is crucial when used in pharmaceutical formulations.
Crystallographic characterization of two novel crystal forms of human insulin induced by chaotropic agents and a shift in pH.,Norrman M, Schluckebier G BMC Struct Biol. 2007 Dec 19;7:83. PMID:18093308
From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.