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Trends Cell Biol. 2001 Apr;11(4):173-9.

Moving the insulin-regulated glucose transporter GLUT4 into and out of storage.

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  • 1Dept of Biology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.


The glucose transporter isoform GLUT4 is unique among the glucose transporter family of proteins in that, in resting cells, it is sequestered very efficiently in a storage compartment. In insulin-sensitive cells, such as fat and muscle, insulin stimulation leads to release of GLUT4 from this reservoir and its translocation to the plasma membrane. This process is crucial for the control of blood and tissue glucose levels. Investigations of the composition and structure of the GLUT4 storage compartment, together with the targeting motifs that direct GLUT4 to this compartment, have been extensive but have been controversial. Recent findings have now provided a clearer consensus of opinion on the mechanisms involved in the formation of this storage compartment. However, another controversy has now emerged, which is unresolved. This concerns the issue of whether the insulin-regulated step occurs at the level of release of GLUT4 from the storage compartment or at the level at which released vesicles fuse with the plasma membrane.

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