Exercise training has been shown to enhance the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake in responsive tissues. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of exercise training on the levels of the insulin-regulatable glucose transporter (IRGT) in rat skeletal muscle. After 6 wk of voluntary running in exercise-wheel cages, male Sprague-Dawley rats were rested for ∼27 h and fasted overnight before removal of plantaris and soleus muscles. The concentration of glucose transporters per unit of muscle protein or DNA was quantitated by immunoblotting with an anti-IRGT polyclonal antibody raised against a synthetic peptide. The IRGT protein was increased by 60% (141 ± 14 vs. 229 ± 24 counts/min [cpm]/25 μg protein, P < 0.01) in plantaris muscle from exercise-trained rats compared with controls. Total protein yield, DNA content, and 5-nucleotidase activity were not different in plantaris muscle from control and exercise-trained rats. In contrast, there was no significant increase in the IRGT protein in soleus muscle after training when data were expressed per unit of muscle protein (292 ± 22 vs. 346 ± 16 cpm/25 μg protein). These data indicate that the increase in the IRGT in plantaris muscle is a selective response to exercise training that does not reflect an overall increase in muscle protein. The changes in IRGT for these muscles with exercise training parallel changes observed in insulin-mediated glucose uptake. We propose that this increase in the total number of glucose transporters may be a major component of the increase in insulin-mediated glucose uptake that is observed with exercise training.

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