Insulin-responsive trafficking of the GLUT4 glucose transporter and the insulin-regulated aminopeptidase (IRAP) in adipose and muscle cells is well established. Insulin regulation of GLUT4 trafficking in these cells underlies the role that adipose tissue and muscle play in the maintenance of whole body glucose homeostasis. GLUT4 is expressed in a very limited number of tissues, most highly in adipose and muscle, while IRAP is expressed in many tissues. IRAP's physiological role in any of the tissues in which it is expressed, however, is unknown. The fact that IRAP, which traffics by the same insulin-regulated pathway as GLUT4, is expressed in ‘non-insulin responsive’ tissues raises the question of whether these other cell types also have a specialized insulin-regulated trafficking pathway. The existence of an insulin-responsive pathway in other cell types would allow regulation of IRAP activity at the plasma membrane as a potentially important physiological function of insulin. To address this question we use reporter molecules for both GLUT4 and IRAP trafficking to measure insulin-stimulated translocation in undifferentiated cells by quantitative fluorescence microscopy. One reporter (vpTR), a chimera between the intracellular domain of IRAP and the extracellular and transmembrane domains of the transferrin receptor, has been previously characterized. The other is a GLUT4 construct with an exofacial HA epitope and a C-terminal GFP. By comparing these reporters to the transferrin receptor, a marker for general endocytic trafficking, we demonstrate the existence of a specialized, insulin-regulated trafficking pathway in two undifferentiated cell types, neither of which normally express GLUT4. The magnitude of translocation in these undifferentiated cells (approximately threefold) is similar to that reported for the translocation of GLUT4 in muscle cells. Thus, undifferentiated cells have the necessary retention and translocation machinery for an insulin response that is large enough to be physiologically important.
We previously prepared cell lines that inducibly overexpress MAP4, a microtubule (MT)-associated protein widely expressed in non-neuronal cells. Overexpression of either the full-length MAP4 molecule or its MT-binding domain, MTB, stabilized MTs and retarded cell growth, suggesting that overexpressed MAP4 impacts on MT-dependent functions in vivo. To test this hypothesis, we examined MT-based vesicle movements in living cells, using high resolution DIC microscopy. Overexpression of either MAP4 or MTB yielded a dose-dependent reduction in the frequency of MT-dependent organelle movements, relative to control cells. At steady state, both MAP4- and MTB-overexpressing cells showed unusual distributions of transferrin, LDL, dextran, and Golgi elements, as compared to control cells. MAP4 preferentially inhibited receptor-dependent uptake and degradation of LDL, and repositioning of Golgi elements after disruption by the drug, brefeldin A. L-MOCK cells treated with Taxol to stabilize the MTs to an extent equivalent to MAP4 overexpression did not show similar inhibition of vesicle motility or organellar trafficking, suggesting that deficits in organelle movements in vivo represent a direct effect of the presence of MAP4 or MTB, rather than an indirect effect of the stabilization of MTs by overexpressed MAP constructs. Our results show that MAP4 has the capacity to affect transport along MTs in vivo; these findings suggest a potential mechanism by which MAP4 could contribute to polarization or morphogenesis of cells.