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Nitroxyl (HNO) has a unique, but varied, set of biological properties including beneficial effects on cardiac contractility and stimulation of glucose uptake by GLUT1. These biological effects are largely initiated by HNO's reaction with cysteine residues of key proteins. The intracellular production of HNO has not yet been demonstrated, but the small molecule, hydroxylamine (HA), has been suggested as possible intracellular source. We examined the effects of this molecule on glucose uptake in L929 fibroblast cells. HA activates glucose uptake from 2 to 5-fold within two minutes. Prior treatment with thiol-active compounds, such as iodoacetamide (IA), cinnamaldehyde (CA), or phenylarsine oxide (PAO) blocks HA-activation of glucose uptake. Incubation of HA with the peroxidase inhibitor, sodium azide, also blocks the stimulatory effects of HA. This suggests that HA is oxidized to HNO by L929 fibroblast cells, which then reacts with cysteine residues to exert its stimulatory effects. The data suggest that GLUT1 is acutely activated in L929 cells by modification of cysteine residues, possibly the formation of a disulfide bond within GLUT1 itself.

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