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Experimental Diabesity Research
Volume 5 (2004), Issue 1, Pages 7-14

The Proinsulin C-peptide—A Multirole Model

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

Received 2 July 2003; Accepted 18 October 2003

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The C-peptide links the insulin A and B chains in proinsulin, providing thereby a means to promote their efficient folding and assembly in the endoplasmic reticulum during insulin biosynthesis. It then facilitates the intracellular transport, sorting, and proteolytic processing of proinsulin into biologically active insulin in the maturing secretory granules of the β cells. These manifold functions impose significant constraints on the C-peptide structure that are conserved in evolution. After cleavage of proinsulin, the intact C-peptide is stored with insulin in the soluble phase of the secretory granules and is subsequently released in equimolar amounts with insulin, providing a useful independent indicator of insulin secretion. This brief review highlights many aspects of its roles in biosynthesis, as a prelude to consideration of its possible additional role(s) as a physiologically active peptide after its release with insulin into the circulation in vivo.