The effect of continuous insulin stimulation on the rates of turnover and on the total cellular contents of the glucose-transporter proteins GLUT1 and GLUT4 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes was investigated. Pulse-and-chase studies with [35S]methionine followed by immunoprecipitation of GLUT1 and GLUT4 with isoform-specific antibodies revealed the half-lives of these proteins to be 19 h and 50 h respectively. Inclusion of 100 nM insulin in the chase medium resulted in a decrease in the half-lives of both proteins to about 15.5 h. This effect of insulin was specific for the glucose-transporter proteins, as the average half-life of all proteins was found to be 55 h both with and without insulin stimulation. The effect of insulin on the rate of synthesis of the glucose transporters was determined by the rate of incorporation of [35S]methionine. After 24 h of insulin treatment, the rate of synthesis of GLUT1 and GLUT4 were elevated over control levels by 3.5-fold and 2-fold respectively. After 72 h of treatment under the same conditions, the rate of synthesis of GLUT1 remained elevated by 2.5-fold, whereas the GLUT4 synthesis rate was not different from control levels. Western-blot analysis of total cellular membranes revealed a 4.5-fold increase in total cellular GLUT1 content and a 50% decrease in total cellular GLUT4 after 72 h of insulin treatment. These observations suggest that the rates of synthesis and degradation of GLUT1 and GLUT4 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes are regulated independently and that these cells respond to prolonged insulin treatment by altering the metabolism of GLUT1 and GLUT4 proteins in a specific manner.

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