Thirty sweet years of GLUT4.
Klip Amira,McGraw Timothy E,James David E
The Journal of biological chemistry
A pivotal metabolic function of insulin is the stimulation of glucose uptake into muscle and adipose tissues. The discovery of the insulin-responsive glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4) protein in 1988 inspired its molecular cloning in the following year. It also spurred numerous cellular mechanistic studies laying the foundations for how insulin regulates glucose uptake by muscle and fat cells. Here, we reflect on the importance of the GLUT4 discovery and chronicle additional key findings made in the past 30 years. That exocytosis of a multispanning membrane protein regulates cellular glucose transport illuminated a novel adaptation of the secretory pathway, which is to transiently modulate the protein composition of the cellular plasma membrane. GLUT4 controls glucose transport into fat and muscle tissues in response to insulin and also into muscle during exercise. Thus, investigation of regulated GLUT4 trafficking provides a major means by which to map the essential signaling components that transmit the effects of insulin and exercise. Manipulation of the expression of GLUT4 or GLUT4-regulating molecules in mice has revealed the impact of glucose uptake on whole-body metabolism. Remaining gaps in our understanding of GLUT4 function and regulation are highlighted here, along with opportunities for future discoveries and for the development of therapeutic approaches to manage metabolic disease.