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Biochem J. 1995 Apr 15;307 ( Pt 2):383-90.

Comparison of glucose-transporter-containing vesicles from rat fat and muscle tissues: evidence for a unique endosomal compartment.

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


Insulin-sensitive tissues (fat and muscle) express a specific isoform of glucose-transporter protein, GLUT4, which normally resides in intracellular vesicular structures and is translocated to the cell surface in response to insulin. Here we provide a biochemical comparison of GLUT4-containing structures from fat and muscle cells. We demonstrate that, in spite of totally different protocols for cell homogenization and fractionation used for adipocytes as compared with skeletal-muscle tissue, GLUT4-containing vesicles from both sources have identical buoyant densities, sedimentation coefficients, and a very similar, if not identical, protein composition. The individual proteins first identified in GLUT4-containing vesicles from adipocytes (GTV3/SCAMPs proteins and aminopeptidase gp160) are also present in the analogous vesicles from muscle. Intracellular microsomes from rat adipocytes also contain GLUT1, a ubiquitously expressed glucose-transporter isoform. GLUT1 has not been detected in intracellular vesicular pool(s) from skeletal-muscle cells, probably because of its low abundance there. GLUT1 in adipocytes is excluded from GLUT4-containing vesicles, but is found in membrane structures which are indistinguishable from the former by all methods tested and demonstrate the same type of regulation by insulin. That is, the GLUT1- and GLUT4-containing vesicles have identical densities and sedimentation coefficients in sucrose gradients, and translocate to the cell surface in response to hormonal exposure. Also, we describe a simple procedure for the purification of native glucose-transporter vesicles from rat adipocytes. Overall, our data suggest the existence of a unique endosomal compartment in fat and muscle cells which is functionally and compositionally different from other microsomal vesicles and which is responsible for insulin-sensitive glucose transport in these tissues.

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