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Biochem Soc Trans. 2014 Oct;42(5):1396-400. doi: 10.1042/BST20140114.

Studies of the regulated assembly of SNARE complexes in adipocytes.

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*Henry Wellcome Laboratory of Cell Biology, Institute for Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, Davidson Building, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, U.K.
†Department of Biology, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, U.K.


Insulin plays a fundamental role in whole-body glucose homeostasis. Central to this is the hormone's ability to rapidly stimulate the rate of glucose transport into adipocytes and muscle cells [1]. Upon binding its receptor, insulin stimulates an intracellular signalling cascade that culminates in redistribution of glucose transporter proteins, specifically the GLUT4 isoform, from intracellular stores to the plasma membrane, a process termed 'translocation' [1,2]. This is an example of regulated membrane trafficking [3], a process that also underpins other aspects of physiology in a number of specialized cell types, for example neurotransmission in brain/neurons and release of hormone-containing vesicles from specialized secretory cells such as those found in pancreatic islets. These processes invoke a number of intriguing biological questions as follows. How is the machinery involved in these membrane trafficking events mobilized in response to a stimulus? How do the signalling pathways that detect the external stimulus interface with the trafficking machinery? Recent studies of insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation offer insight into such questions. In the present paper, we have reviewed these studies and draw parallels with other regulated trafficking systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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