The effects of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus on glucose transport activity and on the concentrations of glucose transport systems in the plasma and low density microsomal membranes in adipose cells isolated from streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats have been examined. Glucose transport activity was assessed by measuring 3-O-methylglucose transport and the concentration of glucose transport systems estimated by measuring specific D-glucose-inhibitable cytochalasin B-binding. Basal glucose transport activity decreases from 0.19 to 0.12 fmol/cell per min with the induction of diabetes, but remains constant per unit cellular surface area and is accompanied by a constant 6 pmol of glucose transport systems/mg of membrane protein in the plasma membrane fraction. Maximally insulin-stimulated glucose transport activity decreases from 3.16 to 1.05 fmol/cell per min and from 0.26 to 0.12 amol/μm2 per min, and is accompanied by a decrease from 25 to 15 pmol of glucose transport systems/mg of plasma membrane protein. These diminished effects of insulin on glucose transport activity and the concentration of glucose transport systems in the plasma membrane fraction are paralleled by a 45% decrease in the basal number of glucose transport systems per milligram of membrane protein in the low density microsomal membrane fraction, the source of those glucose transport systems appearing in the plasma membrane in response to insulin. Thus, the 'insulin resistant' glucose transport of the adipose cell in the streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat appears to be the consequence of a depletion of glucose transport systems in the intracellular pool.
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