In adipocytes and muscle cells, the GLUT4 glucose transporter isoform is present in intracellular vesicles which continuously recycle between an intracytoplasmic location and the plasma membrane. It is not clear whether the GLUT4-vesicles represent a specific kind of vesicle or resemble typical secretory granules or synaptic-like microvesicles. To approach this question, we expressed GLUT4 in the beta cell line RINm5F and determined its intracellular localization by subcellular fractionation and by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. GLUT4 was not found in insulin granules but was associated with a subpopulation of smooth-surface vesicles present in the trans-Golgi region and in vesicular structures adjacent to the plasma membrane. In the trans-Golgi region, GLUT4 did not colocalize with synaptophysin or TGN38. Incubation of the cells with horseradish peroxidase (HRP) led to colocalization of HRP and GLUT4 in some endosomal structures adjacent to the plasma membrane and in occasional trans-Golgi region vesicles. When cells were incubated in the presence of Bafilomycin A, analysis by confocal microscopy revealed GLUT4 in numerous large spots present throughout the cytoplasm, many of which costained for TGN38 and synaptophysin. By immunoelectron microscopy, numerous endosomes were observed which stained strongly for GLUT4. Together our data demonstrate that ectopic expression of GLUT4 in insulinoma cells reveals the presence of a subset of vesicular structures distinct from synaptic-like vesicles and insulin secretory granules. Furthermore, they indicate that GLUT4 constitutively recycles between the plasma membrane and its intracellular location by an endocytic route also taken by TGN38 and synaptophysin.
Intracellular targeting of GLUT4 in transfected insulinoma cells: evidence for association with constitutively recycling vesicles distinct from synaptophysin and insulin vesicles
B. Thorens, J. Roth; Intracellular targeting of GLUT4 in transfected insulinoma cells: evidence for association with constitutively recycling vesicles distinct from synaptophysin and insulin vesicles. J Cell Sci 1 June 1996; 109 (6): 1311–1323. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.109.6.1311
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