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Mol Biol Cell. 2010 Apr 15;21(8):1375-86. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-08-0751. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

GLUT4 is sorted to vesicles whose accumulation beneath and insertion into the plasma membrane are differentially regulated by insulin and selectively affected by insulin resistance.

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Department of Biochemistry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Insulin stimulates glucose transport by recruiting the GLUT4 glucose transporter to the plasma membrane. Here we use total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to show that two trafficking motifs of GLUT4, a FQQI motif and a TELE-based motif, target GLUT4 to specialized vesicles that accumulate adjacent to the plasma membrane of unstimulated adipocytes. Mutations of these motifs redistributed GLUT4 to transferrin-containing recycling vesicles adjacent to the plasma membrane, and the degree of redistribution correlated with the increases of the GLUT4 mutants in the plasma membrane of basal adipocytes. These results establish that GLUT4 defaults to recycling endosomes when trafficking to specialized vesicles is disrupted, supporting the hypothesis that the specialized vesicles are derived from an endosomal compartment. Insulin stimulates both the accumulation of GLUT4 in the evanescent field and the fraction of this GLUT4 that is inserted into the plasma membrane. Unexpectedly, these two steps are differentially affected by the development of insulin resistance. We ascribe this selective insulin resistance to inherent differences in the sensitivities of GLUT4 vesicle accumulation and insertion into the plasma membrane to insulin. Differences in insulin sensitivities of various processes may be a general mechanism for the development of the physiologically important phenomenon of selective insulin resistance.

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