In preparation for the cellular proliferation stimulated by growth factors, the rate of macromolecular synthesis must be increased to allow for the enlargement of the cell that proceeds mitosis. The increased glycoprotein synthesis that follows growth factor stimulation would consume the hexosamines required for protein modification. Glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFAT) is the rate-limiting enzyme controlling the synthesis of the hexosamines used in these biosynthetic pathways. We tested the idea that growth factors might activate the transcription of the GFAT gene to increase the cellular content of this rate-limiting enzyme in hexosamine synthesis. We employed a human breast cancer cell line, MDA468 cells, which express high numbers of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors, to determine whether EGF could stimulate transcription of the GFAT gene. Our experiments showed that EGF stimulated the accumulation of GFAT messenger RNA (mRNA) to a level 4-fold higher than that in unstimulated cells. This accumulation could be largely accounted for by an increase in transcription, as assessed by nuclear run-on experiments. Furthermore, the GFAT mRNA was highly stable and not further stabilized by EGF. This effect of EGF on GFAT gene transcription required stimulation for 12-16 h with EGF. Interestingly, when cells were exposed to 25 mM glucose instead of 5 mM glucose, this effect of EGF was blocked. Glucose had no effect on the stability of the GFAT mRNA, implying that the effect of glucose was to antagonize the transcriptional effect of EGF on the GFAT gene. Glucosamine had an effect opposite that of glucose, in that it stimulated GFAT mRNA accumulation and had an additive effect with EGF on the accumulation of this mRNA. These results demonstrate that the GFAT gene undergoes a late transcriptional response to EGF and that the provision of high glucose concentrations to the cells blocks this EGF activation. This effect of glucose does not appear to result from its metabolism through GFAT to glucosamine. © 1995 by The Endocrine Society.