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Mol Biol Cell. 1999 May;10(5):1581-94.

The formation of an insulin-responsive vesicular cargo compartment is an early event in 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation.

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Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Differentiating 3T3-L1 cells exhibit a dramatic increase in the rate of insulin-stimulated glucose transport during their conversion from proliferating fibroblasts to nonproliferating adipocytes. On day 3 of 3T3-L1 cell differentiation, basal glucose transport and cell surface transferrin binding are markedly diminished. This occurs concomitant with the formation of a distinct insulin-responsive vesicular pool of intracellular glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and transferrin receptors as assessed by sucrose velocity gradients. The intracellular distribution of the insulin-responsive aminopeptidase is first readily detectable on day 3, and its gradient profile and response to insulin at this time are identical to that of GLUT1. With further time of differentiation, GLUT4 is expressed and targeted to the same insulin-responsive vesicles as the other three proteins. Our data are consistent with the notion that a distinct insulin-sensitive vesicular cargo compartment forms early during fat call differentiation and its formation precedes GLUT4 expression. The development of this compartment may result from the differentiation-dependent inhibition of constitutive GLUT1 and transferrin receptor trafficking such that there is a large increase in, or the new formation of, a population of postendosomal, insulin-responsive vesicles.

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