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J Biol Chem. 1992 Aug 25;267(24):17241-7.

Expression and function of GLUT-1 and GLUT-2 glucose transporter isoforms in cells of cultured rat pancreatic islets.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142.


We have previously investigated glucose induction of glucokinase, glucose usage and insulin release in isolated cultured rat pancreatic islets (Liang, Y., Najafit, H., Smith, R. M., Zimmerman, E. C., Magnuson, M. A., Tal, M., and Mastchinsky, F. M. (1992) Diabetes (1992) 41, 792-806). Here we studied the expression and function of GLUT-1 and GLUT-2 glucose transporter isoforms, using the same system, i.e. isolated pancreatic rat islets immediately after isolation or cultured in the presence of 3 or 30 mM glucose for as long as 10 days. We found by immunofluorescence microscopy and Western and Northern blot analysis of islet extracts that GLUT-1 expression was induced in islet beta-cells in tissue culture both with low or high glucose present. The induction of GLUT-1 was specific to beta-cells but was not present in all beta-cells and was not detected in alpha-cells. GLUT-2 expression was also specific for beta-cells and was not observed in all beta-cells. Some beta-cells in culture coexpressed GLUT-1 and GLUT-2. The expression of the two glucose transporters was regulated in the opposite direction in response to glucose concentration in the culture medium. GLUT-1 was more effectively induced when glucose was low, and GLUT-2 expression was more pronounced when glucose was high in the culture media. Another difference between the two glucose transporters was that GLUT-2 expression was increased while GLUT-1 expression was decreased as culturing continued as long as 7 days. Thus, after 7 days of culture GLUT-2 expression in beta-cells was nearly the same at low and high glucose, whereas GLUT-1 was practically absent no matter what the glucose level was. In attempts to correlate GLUT-1 and GLUT-2 expression to beta-cell function glucose uptake and glucose-stimulated insulin release in fresh and cultured islets were measured. In freshly isolated islet glucose uptake was estimated to be 100-fold in excess of actual glucose use. Glucose uptake was reduced by 7-day culture to about one-third of that observed in freshly isolated islets no matter what the glucose concentration of the culture media. We conclude that in the present experimental system GLUT-1 and GLUT-2 expression and function are not closely associated with glucose usage rates or the secretory function of beta-cells.

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