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J Biol Chem. 1986 Jul 5;261(19):8708-11.

Insulin stimulates cellular iron uptake and causes the redistribution of intracellular transferrin receptors to the plasma membrane.


Insulin stimulates the accumulation of iron by isolated fat cells by increasing the uptake of diferric transferrin. Analysis of the cell-surface binding of diferric 125I-transferrin indicated that insulin caused a 3-fold increase in the cell surface number of transferrin receptors. This result was confirmed by the demonstration that insulin increases the binding of an anti-rat transferrin receptor monoclonal antibody (OX-26) to the surface of fat cells. The basis of this effect of insulin was examined by investigating the number of transferrin receptors in membrane fractions isolated from disrupted fat cells. Two methods were employed. First the binding isotherm of diferric 125I-transferrin to the isolated membranes was studied. Second, the membranes were solubilized with detergent, and the number of transferrin receptors was measured by immunoblotting using the monoclonal antibody OX-26. It was observed that insulin treatment of intact fat cells resulted in an increase in the number of transferrin receptors located in the isolated plasma membrane fraction of the disrupted fat cells. Furthermore, the increase in the number of plasma membrane transferrin receptors was associated with a concomitant decrease in the transferrin receptor number in a low density microsome fraction previously shown to consist of intracellular membranes. This redistribution of transferrin receptors between cellular membrane fractions in response to insulin is remarkably similar to the regulation by insulin of glucose transporters and type II insulin-like growth factor receptors. We conclude that insulin stimulates fat cell iron uptake by a mechanism that may involve the redistribution of transferrin receptors from an internal membrane compartment (low density microsomes) to the cell surface (plasma membrane).

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