To investigate the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in the regulation of insulin secretion, we visualized changes in the intracellular localization of alpha-PKC in fixed beta-cells from both isolated rat pancreatic islets and the pancreas of awake unstressed rats during glucose-induced insulin secretion. Isolated, perifused rat islets were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde, detergent permeabilized, and labeled with a mAb specific for alpha-PKC. The labeling was visualized by confocal immunofluorescent microscopy. In isolated rat pancreatic islets perifused with 2.75 mM glucose, alpha-PKC immunostaining was primarily cytoplasmic in distribution throughout the beta-cells. In islets stimulated with 20 mM glucose, there was a significant redistribution of alpha-PKC to the cell periphery. This glucose-induced redistribution was abolished when either mannoheptulose, an inhibitor of glucose metabolism, or nitrendipine, an inhibitor of calcium influx, were added to the perifusate. We also examined changes in the intracellular distribution of alpha-PKC in the beta-cells of awake, unstressed rats that were given an intravenous infusion of glucose. Immunocytochemical analysis of pancreatic sections from these rats demonstrated a glucose-induced translocation of alpha-PKC to the cell periphery of the beta-cells. These results demonstrate that the metabolism of glucose can induce the redistribution of alpha-PKC to the cell periphery of beta-cells, both in isolated islets and in the intact animal, and suggest that alpha-PKC plays a role in mediating glucose-induced insulin secretion.

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