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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jun 5;266(16):10148-54.

Coordinated regulation of glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase activity by insulin, glucose, and glutamine. Role of hexosamine biosynthesis in enzyme regulation.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Tennessee, Memphis 38163.


We reported previously that glutamine:F-6-P amidotransferase (GFAT) plays an integral role in the development of insulin resistance by directing the flow of incoming glucose into the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway. To determine whether the enzymatic activity of GFAT is altered during desensitization of the glucose transport system, we treated isolated rat adipocytes with various combinations of insulin, glucose, and glutamine. Treatment with insulin or glucose alone (or in combination) failed to reduce cytosolic GFAT activity after 4 h, whereas combined treatment with all three components elicited a progressive loss of GFAT activity that was rapid (t1/2 of 2 h) and extensive (70% loss). A pronounced loss of GFAT activity was also seen in cells exposed to glucosamine, an agent known to directly enter the hexosamine pathway (55% loss at 4 h, ED50 of 360 microM). Moreover, a close correlation was observed between the induction of desensitization and the loss of GFAT activity as a function of glucose, insulin, glutamine, and glucosamine concentrations. When total intracellular hexosamine products were measured, we found that hexosamine formation was unaltered by insulin or glucose (or a combination) but was elevated by greater than 4-fold in the presence of insulin, glucose, and glutamine (t1/2 of 22 min), a condition known to cause both desensitization and loss of GFAT activity. Additional studies indicated that the loss of GFAT activity under desensitizing conditions is not due to allosteric regulation since removal of potential allosteric factors from the cytosol of desensitized cells by G-25 column chromatography failed to restore enzyme activity. Overall, these studies indicate that 1) GFAT is an insulin-regulated enzyme; however, control of enzyme activity is not due to a direct action of insulin, but rather is mediated by insulin-induced enhancement of glucose uptake; 2) the routing of incoming glucose through the hexosamine pathway and the formation of hexosamine products appears to regulate GFAT activity; and 3) the progressive loss of GFAT activity over several hours is probably not due to allosteric regulation.

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