Insulin action on the internalization of the GLUT4 glucose transporter in isolated rat adipocytes

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Program in Molecular Medicine

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Adipose Tissue; Animals; Cell Fractionation; Cell Membrane; Cells, Cultured; Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel; Insulin; Kinetics; Male; Membrane Proteins; Microsomes; Monosaccharide Transport Proteins; Potassium Cyanide; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Trypsin; Ultracentrifugation


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


A novel method was developed to measure relative amounts of the GLUT4 glucose transporter on the surface of intact fat cells and to monitor the action of insulin on cell surface glucose transporters as they internalize into intracellular membranes. The method takes advantage of two predicted trypsin cleavage sites in the major exofacial loop of this transporter protein. Treatment of cyanide-poisoned rat adipocytes with 1 mg/ml trypsin at 37 degrees C for 30 min produced an immunoreactive GLUT4 protein species in subsequently isolated plasma membranes that migrated with higher mobility (apparent M(r) = 35,000) than native GLUT4 (apparent M(r) = 46,000) on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. This proteolyzed GLUT4 protein was absent in the intracellular low density microsomes. Insulin treatment of adipocytes for 20 min prior to sequential additions of cyanide and trypsin caused a 16-fold increase in the proteolytically cleaved GLUT4 species. Incubation of fresh fat cells with trypsin caused a rapid and progressive appearance of the proteolyzed GLUT4 species in the intracellular low density membranes as well as plasma membranes. After 5 min of trypsinization, 66% of the total cleaved GLUT4 in these cells had moved into the low density membranes. Insulin treatment markedly decreased the internalized cleaved GLUT4 to 20% of the total. These data indicate the following: 1) trypsinization of the GLUT4 transporter protein on intact fat cells is a convenient means to monitor the extent of transporter recruitment to the plasma membrane by insulin, as well as to estimate GLUT4 internalization rates; and 2) the action of insulin on glucose transporter redistribution to the cell surface is associated with a marked inhibition of the fraction of cell surface GLUT4 transporters internalized per unit time.


J Biol Chem. 1993 May 5;268(13):9187-90.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of biological chemistry

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