In the presence of Na+, alpha-aminoisobutyrate was transported by saturable and non-saturable processes into R3230AC mammary tumour cells isolated by enzymic treatment. Eadie-Hofstee analysis for the saturable process gave a curvilinear plot, suggesting that transport occurred by more than one carrier. In the absence of Na+, alpha-aminoisobutyrate was also transported by both saturable and non-saturable processes. This Na+-independent saturable process gave a linear plot according to Eadie-Hofstee analysis: V, 708 +/- 105 pmol/min per 5 × 10(6) cells; Km, 0.36 +/- 0.33 mM (mean +/- S.E.M.). Subtracting alpha-aminoisobutyrate entry in the absence of Na+ from total alpha-aminoisobutyrate uptake (in the presence of Na+) showed the presence of another saturable process (Na+-dependent), accounting for 75% of total alpha-aminoisobutyrate uptake. This component gave a linear Eadie-Hofstee plot: V, 2086 +/- 213; Km, 1.75 +/- 0.16 alpha-(Methylamino)isobutyrate, a substrate specifically taken up by the A system, inhibited 80% of alpha-aminoisobutyrate entry. The presence of both alhpa-(methylamino)isobutyrate and phenylalanine inhibited alpha-aminoisobutyrate entry completely. 2-Aminobicyclo[2.2.1]heptane-2-carboxylate, an analogue specifically taken up by the Na+-independent system, inhibited completely the Na+-independent entry of alpha-aminoisobutyrate. In the presence of Na+, the distribution ratio, which is defined as the amino acid concentration in the intracellular space divided by that in the incubation medium for alpha-aminoisobutyrate, at 90 min was 19, and in the absence of Na+ at 60 min was 5. These concentrative processes were sensitive to the metabolic inhibitor pentachlorophenol. The Na+-dependent, but not the Na+-independent, alpha-aminoisobutyrate uptake was increased in cells from diabetic rats. This was primarily due to an increase in the V for the Na+-dependent component (164%) with no effect on the Km. We conclude, therefore, that alpha-aminoisobutyrate entry into cells from this mammary tumour is mediated by two transport systems, one Na+-dependent and another Na+-independent. Furthermore, the Na+-dependent component of alpha-aminoisobutyrate is sensitive to alterations of insulin in vivo.

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