We recently demonstrated that chymotrypsin substrate analogues inhibit receptor-mediated insulin internalization in isolated rat adipocytes. In this study, the effect on glucose transport of inhibiting insulin internalization with these agents was examined. Glucose transport was assayed by measuring [3H]-2-deoxyglucose uptake, and internalized insulin was measured after rapidly dissociating surface-bound insulin with an acidic buffer. The chymotrypsin substrate analogue N-acetyl-Tyr ethyl ester inhibited insulin internalization by 85% while increasing surface-bound insulin by 80-110%. Under these conditions, ATP levels were minimally altered, and basal glucose transport was unchanged; however, insulin-stimulated glucose transport was decreased by 86%. The inhibition of insulinstimulated glucose transport was not overcome by supramaximal concentrations (400 ng/ml) of insulin. When insulin internalization and insulin-stimulated glucose transport were measured in the presence of increasing concentrations of N-acetyl-Tyr ethyl ester (0.1-1 mM), a strong and highly significant correlation (r = .97, P < .001) was found between inhibition of insulin internalization and inhibition of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Fragments of N-acetyl-Tyr ethyl ester that do not inhibit insulin internalization were also without effect on insulin-stimulated glucose transport. In addition to N-acetyl-Tyr ethyl ester, four other chymotrypsin substrate analogues that are effective inhibitors of insulin internalization also markedly inhibited insulin-stimulated glucose transport. These results indicate that insulin internalization and insulin-stimulated glucose transport share a common postbinding step in adipocytes and that this step is inhibitable by chymotrypsin substrate analogues.

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