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Pflugers Arch. 2002 Sep;444(6):710-21. Epub 2002 Jul 27.

Gene gun bombardment-mediated expression and translocation of EGFP-tagged GLUT4 in skeletal muscle fibres in vivo.

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Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Department of Medical Physiology 12.4, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3C, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.


Cellular protein trafficking has been studied to date only in vitro or with techniques that are invasive and have a low time resolution. To establish a gentle method for analysis of glucose transporter-4 (GLUT4) trafficking in vivo in fully differentiated rat skeletal muscle fibres we combined the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) labelling technique with physical transfection methods in vivo: intramuscular plasmid injection or gene gun bombardment. During optimisation experiments with plasmid coding for the EGFP reporter alone EGFP-positive muscle fibres were counted after collagenase treatment of in vivo transfected flexor digitorum brevis (FDB) muscles. In contrast to gene gun bombardment, intramuscular injection produced EGFP expression in only a few fibres. Regardless of the transfection technique, EGFP expression was higher in muscles from 2-week-old rats than in those from 6-week-old rats and peaked around 1 week after transfection. The gene gun was used subsequently with a plasmid coding for EGFP linked to the C-terminus of GLUT4 (GLUT4-EGFP). Rats were anaesthetised 5 days after transfection and insulin given i.v. with or without accompanying electrical hindleg muscle stimulation. After stimulation, the hindlegs were fixed by perfusion. GLUT4-EGFP-positive FDB fibres were isolated and analysed by confocal microscopy. The intracellular distribution of GLUT4-EGFP under basal conditions as well as after translocation to the plasma membrane in response to insulin, contractions, or both, was in accordance with previous studies of endogenous GLUT4. Finally, GLUT4-EGFP trafficking in quadriceps muscle in vivo was studied using time-lapse microscopy analysis in anaesthetised mice and the first detailed time-lapse recordings of GLUT4-EGFP translocation in fully differentiated skeletal muscle in vivo were obtained.

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