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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Dec;16(12):6879-86.

Potential role of Rab4 in the regulation of subcellular localization of Glut4 in adipocytes.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Nice, France.


A role for Rab4 in the translocation of the glucose transporter Glut4 induced by insulin has been recently proposed. To study more directly the role of this small GTPase, freshly isolated adipocytes were transiently transfected with the cDNAs of both an epitope-tagged Glut4-myc and Rab4, a system which allows direct measurement of the concentration of Glut4 molecules at the cell surface. When cells were cotransfected with Glut4-myc and Rab4, the concentration of Glut4-myc at the cell surface decreased in parallel with the increased expression of Rab4, suggesting that Rab4 participates in the intracellular retention of Glut4. In parallel, the amount of Rab4 associated with the Glut4-containing vesicles increased. When Rab4 was moderately overexpressed, the number of Glut4-myc molecules recruited to the cell surface in response to insulin was similar to that observed in mock-transfected cells, and thus the insulin efficiency was increased. When Rab4 was expressed at a higher level, the amount of Glut4-myc present at the cell surface in response to insulin decreased. Since the overexpressed protein was predominantly cytosolic, this suggests that the cytosolic Rab4 might complex some factor(s) necessary for insulin action. This hypothesis was strengthened by the fact that Rab4 deltaCT, a Rab4 mutant lacking the geranylgeranylation sites, inhibited insulin-induced recruitement of Glut4-myc to the cell surface, even when moderately overexpressed. Rab3D was without effect on Glut4-myc subcellular distribution in basal or insulin-stimulated conditions. While two mutated proteins unable to bind GTP did not decrease the number of Glut4-myc molecules in basal or insulin-stimulated conditions at the plasma membrane, the behavior of a mutated Rab4 protein without GTPase activity was similar to that of the wild-type Rab4 protein, indicating that GTP binding but not its hydrolysis was required for the observed effects. Altogether, our results suggest that Rab4, but not Rab3D, participates in the molecular mechanism involved in the subcellular distribution of the Glut4 molecules both in basal and in insulin-stimulated conditions in adipocytes.

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