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Diabetes. 2013 Sep;62(9):3114-9. doi: 10.2337/db12-1741. Epub 2013 Jun 25.

Impaired tethering and fusion of GLUT4 vesicles in insulin-resistant human adipose cells.

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  • 1Program in Physical Biology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

Systemic glucose homeostasis is profoundly influenced by adipose cell function. Here we investigated GLUT4 dynamics in living adipose cells from human subjects with varying BMI and insulin sensitivity index (Si) values. Cells were transfected with hemagglutinin (HA)-GLUT4-green fluorescent protein (GFP)/mCherry (red fluorescence), and were imaged live using total internal reflection fluorescence and confocal microscopy. HA-GLUT4-GFP redistribution to the plasma membrane (PM) was quantified by surface-exposed HA epitope. In the basal state, GLUT4 storage vesicle (GSV) trafficking to and fusion with the PM were invariant with donor subject Si, as was total cell-surface GLUT4. In cells from insulin-sensitive subjects, insulin augmented GSV tethering and fusion approximately threefold, resulting in a corresponding increase in total PM GLUT4. However, with decreasing Si, these effects diminished progressively. All insulin-induced effects on GLUT4 redistribution and trafficking correlated strongly with Si and only weakly with BMI. Thus, while basal GLUT4 dynamics and total cell-surface GLUT4 are intact in human adipose cells, independent of donor Si, cells from insulin-resistant donors show markedly impaired GSV tethering and fusion responses to insulin, even after overnight culture. This altered insulin responsiveness is consistent with the hypothesis that adipose cellular dysfunction is a primary contributor to systemic metabolic dysfunction.

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