Heterotypic endosomal fusion as an initial trigger for insulin-induced glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) translocation in skeletal muscle

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Skeletal muscle is the major systemic glucose disposal site. Both insulin and exercise facilitate translocation of the glucose transporter glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) via distinct signalling pathways and exercise also enhances insulin sensitivity. However, the trafficking mechanisms controlling GLUT4 mobilization in skeletal muscle remain poorly understood as a resuly of technical limitations. In the present study, which employs various imaging techniques on isolated skeletal myofibres, we show that one of the initial triggers of insulin-induced GLUT4 translocation is heterotypic endomembrane fusion arising from very small static GLUT4-containing vesicles with a subset of transferrin receptor-containing endosomes. Importantly, pretreatment with exercise-mimetic stimuli potentiated the susceptibility to insulin responsiveness, as indicated by these acute endomembranous activities. We also found that AS160 exhibited stripe-like localization close to sarcomeric α-actinin and that insulin induced a reduction of the stripe-like localization accompanying changes in its detergent solubility. The results of the present study thus provide a conceptual framework indicating that GLUT4 protein trafficking via heterotypic fusion is a critical feature of GLUT4 translocation in skeletal muscles and also suggest that the efficacy of the endomembranous fusion process in response to insulin is involved in the benefits of exercise.

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