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Mol Cell Biochem. 1976 Mar 26;11(1):51-63.

Regulation of the D-glucose transport system in isolated fat cells.


Recent technical advances have yielded considerable new biochemical insights into the hexose transport systems of both brown and white fat cells. In the present studies a novel filtration method was used to monitor initial rates of 3-O-(3H)methylglucose uptake in isolated white fat cells. Transport of 3-O-methylglucose, a non-metabolizable analogue of glucose, occurred by facilitated diffusion, was inhibited by glucose, phloridzin, cytochalasin B and dipyridamole, and was rapidly stimulated by insulin as well as lectins. Total 3-O-methylglucose uptake in white fat cells could be attributed to two kinetically distinct processes in addition to a certain degree of diffusion. Two important new features of glucose transport in fat cells have been discovered. First, in both brown and white fat cells transport per se does not appear to be necessarily rate-limiting for further glucose metabolism. Thus vitamin K5, which markedly increases glucose oxidation by brown fat cells, did not affect the glucose transport system activity. Glucose utilization can apparently be significantly enhanced in fat cells by agents which either increase transport system activity or intracellular enzyme activity. Second, the transport system itself, whether in the basal state or after activation by insulin, lectins, or oxidants, is resistant to sulfhydryl reagents such as N-ethylmaleimide, while the increase in transport activity due to these agents is exquisitely sensitive to sulfhydryl blockage. N-ethylmaleimide blocks the stimulatory effect of insulin on transport whereas addition of insulin to fat cells prior to the reagent completely protects against this inhibitory effect. Further, N-ethylmaleimide prevents the elevated rates of transport system activity due to insulin (or other agents) from returning to basal levels once the cells are washed free of hormone. These data are consistent with the concept that activation of the transport system involves oxidation of key membrane sulfhydryls to the disulfide form, but alternative models are also possible. In any case, these findings provide a possible biochemical clue for future studies designed to identify the specific component(s) involved in the regulatory mechanism which modulates transport of glucose in isolated fat cells.

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