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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Dec 24;93(26):15169-73.

Insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 glucose transporters requires SNARE-complex proteins.

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  • 1Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


A major physiological role of insulin is the regulation of glucose uptake into skeletal and cardiac muscle and adipose tissue, mediated by an insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 glucose transporters from an intracellular vesicular pool to the plasma membrane. This process is similar to the regulated docking and fusion of vesicles in neuroendocrine cells, a process that involves SNARE-complex proteins. Recently, several SNARE proteins were found in adipocytes: vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP-2), its related homologue cellubrevin, and syntaxin-4. In this report we show that treatment of permeabilized 3T3-L1 adipocytes with botulinum neurotoxin D, which selectively cleaves VAMP-2 and cellubrevin, inhibited the ability of insulin to stimulate translocation of GLUT4 vesicles to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, treatment of the permeabilized adipocytes with glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins encoding soluble forms of VAMP-2 or syntaxin-4 also effectively blocked insulin-regulated GLUT4 translocation. These results provide evidence of a functional role for SNARE-complex proteins in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and suggest that adipocytes utilize a mechanism of regulating vesicle docking and fusion analogous to that found in neuroendocrine tissues.

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