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Diabetologia. 2010 May;53(5):955-65. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-1676-1. Epub 2010 Feb 18.

Glucosamine-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress affects GLUT4 expression via activating transcription factor 6 in rat and human skeletal muscle cells.

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Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via Sergio Pansini, 5, Naples 80131, Italy.



Glucosamine, generated during hyperglycaemia, causes insulin resistance in different cells. Here we sought to evaluate the possible role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the induction of insulin resistance by glucosamine in skeletal muscle cells.


Real-time RT-PCR analysis, 2-deoxy-D: -glucose (2-DG) uptake and western blot analysis were carried out in rat and human muscle cell lines.


In both rat and human myotubes, glucosamine treatment caused a significant increase in the expression of the ER stress markers immunoglobulin heavy chain-binding protein/glucose-regulated protein 78 kDa (BIP/GRP78 [also known as HSPA5]), X-box binding protein-1 (XBP1) and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). In addition, glucosamine impaired insulin-stimulated 2-DG uptake in both rat and human myotubes. Interestingly, pretreatment of both rat and human myotubes with the chemical chaperones 4-phenylbutyric acid (PBA) or tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), completely prevented the effect of glucosamine on both ER stress induction and insulin-induced glucose uptake. In both rat and human myotubes, glucosamine treatment reduced mRNA and protein levels of the gene encoding GLUT4 and mRNA levels of the main regulators of the gene encoding GLUT4 (myocyte enhancer factor 2 a [MEF2A] and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1alpha [PGC1alpha]). Again, PBA or TUDCA pretreatment prevented glucosamine-induced inhibition of GLUT4 (also known as SLC2A4), MEF2A and PGC1alpha (also known as PPARGC1A). Finally, we showed that overproduction of ATF6 is sufficient to inhibit the expression of genes GLUT4, MEF2A and PGC1alpha and that ATF6 silencing with a specific small interfering RNA is sufficient to completely prevent glucosamine-induced inhibition of GLUT4, MEF2A and PGC1alpha in skeletal muscle cells.


In this work we show that glucosamine-induced ER stress causes insulin resistance in both human and rat myotubes and impairs GLUT4 production and insulin-induced glucose uptake via an ATF6-dependent decrease of the GLUT4 regulators MEF2A and PGC1alpha.

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