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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Feb;284(2):E424-34. Epub 2002 Oct 22.

High glucose and insulin promote O-GlcNAc modification of proteins, including alpha-tubulin.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Increased flux through the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway has been implicated in the development of glucose-induced insulin resistance and may promote the modification of certain proteins with O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc). L6 myotubes (a model of skeletal muscle) were incubated for 18 h in 5 or 25 mM glucose with or without 10 nM insulin. As assessed by immunoblotting with an O-GlcNAc-specific antibody, high glucose and/or insulin enhanced O-GlcNAcylation of numerous proteins, including the transcription factor Sp1, a known substrate for this modification. To identify novel proteins that may be O-GlcNAc modified in a glucose concentration/insulin-responsive manner, total cell membranes were separated by one- or two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Selected O-GlcNAcylated proteins were identified by mass spectrometry (MS) analysis. MS sequencing of tryptic peptides identified member(s) of the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) family and rat alpha-tubulin. Immunoprecipitation/immunoblot studies demonstrated several HSP70 isoforms and/or posttranslational modifications, some with selectively enhanced O-GlcNAcylation following exposure to high glucose plus insulin. In conclusion, in L6 myotubes, Sp1, membrane-associated HSP70, and alpha-tubulin are O-GlcNAcylated; the modification is markedly enhanced by sustained increased glucose flux.

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