The enzyme activity of the mitochondrial glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase (mGPD) in the pancreatic islet has been reported to be less than one-half of normal in the Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rat, a genetic model of NIDDM. In the current study, mGPD enzyme activity and the amount of mGPD protein, as judged by Western analysis, were 35–40% of normal in the islets of these animals. With the exception of pyruvate carboxylase, the activities of other enzymes were not abnormal. The assayable activity and amount of pyruvate carboxylase protein were decreased ∼50% in the islets of the GK rats. Because mGPD, which is the key enzyme of the glycerol phosphate shuttle, and pyruvate carboxylase, which is the key component of the pyruvate malate shuttle, have been proposed to be essential for stimulus-secretion coupling in the pancreatic β-cell, an important question is whether the decreases in these enzymes have a causal role in the hyperglycemia or whether the diabetic syndrome caused the decreases. To attempt to differentiate between these two possibilities, GK rats were treated with insulin to normalize their blood sugars. The activities of both mGPD and pyruvate carboxylase were also normalized by insulin treatment. An incidental discovery of this study was the identification of a high level of propionyl-CoA carboxylase activity and a lesser amount of methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase activity in pancreatic islets. These enzymes were normal in the islets of the GK rats. This is the first report on the presence of these two carboxylases in the islet and of low pyruvate carboxylase activity in the islet in NIDDM. We conclude that the decreased mGPD and pyruvate carboxylase in the pancreatic islet of the GK rat result from the diabetic syndrome.

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