Isolated rat adipocytes were used to assess the mechanisms of the ability of insulin to accelerate glucose transport. Glucose transport was determined by measuring the initial rates of 2-deoxyglucose uptake, and at 24 degrees C insulin increased the Vmax. of transport from 7.3 +/- 1 to 23.1 +/- 2 nmol/min per 10(6) cells, but the Km value remained unchanged (2.5, cf. 2.4 mM). When the Vmax. of basal and insulin-stimulated transport was measured as a function of temperature (15-37 degrees C), parallel Arrhenius plots were obtained yielding equal activation energies of approx. 59kJ/mol. Since both processes have equal activation energies the data indicate that insulin increases Vmax. by increasing the number of available carriers rather than enhancing intrinsic activity of already functioning carriers. Since the ability of insulin to activate glucose transport did not decrease with temperature (whereas plasma-membrane fluidity declines), it is suggested that lateral diffusion of insulin receptors within the plasma-membrane bilayer is not a rat-determining step in insulin action.

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