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Bioessays. 1994 Oct;16(10):753-9.

Subcellular localization and trafficking of the GLUT4 glucose transporter isoform in insulin-responsive cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Bath, Claverton Down, UK.


The rate-limiting step in the uptake and metabolism of D-glucose by insulin target cells is thought to be glucose transport mediated by glucose transporters (primarily the GLUT4 isoform) localized to the plasma membrane. However, subcellular fractionation, photolabelling and immunocytochemical studies have shown that the pool of GLUT4 present in the plasma membrane is only one of many subcellular pools of this protein. GLUT4 has been found in occluded vesicles at the plasma membrane, clathrin-coated pits and vesicles, early endosomes, and tubulo-vesicular structures; the latter are analogous to known specialized secretory compartments. Tracking the movement of GLUT4 through these compartments, and defining the mechanism and site of action of insulin in stimulating this subcellular trafficking, are major topics of current investigation. Recent evidence focuses attention on the exocytosis of GLUT4 as the major site of insulin action. Increased exocytosis may be due to decreased retention of glucose transporters in an intracellular pool, or possibly to increased assembly of a vesicle docking and fusion complex. Although details are unknown, the presence in GLUT4 vesicles of a synaptobrevin homologue leads us to propose that a process analogous to that occurring in synaptic vesicle trafficking is involved in the assembly of GLUT4 vesicles into a form suitable for fusion with the plasma membrane. Evidence that the pathways of signalling from the insulin receptor and of GLUT4 vesicle exocytosis may converge at the level of the key signalling enzyme, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, is discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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