Novel Systems for Dynamically Assessing Insulin Action in Live Cells Reveals Heterogeneity in the Insulin Response

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Regulated GLUT4 trafficking is a key action of insulin. Quantitative stepwise analysis of this process provides a powerful tool for pinpointing regulatory nodes that contribute to insulin regulation and insulin resistance. We describe a novel GLUT4 construct and workflow for the streamlined dissection of GLUT4 trafficking; from simple high throughput screens to high resolution analyses of individual vesicles. We reveal single cell heterogeneity in insulin action highlighting the utility of this approach – each cell displayed a unique and highly reproducible insulin response, implying that each cell is hard-wired to produce a specific output in response to a given stimulus. These data highlight that the response of a cell population to insulin is underpinned by extensive heterogeneity at the single cell level. This heterogeneity is pre-programmed within each cell and is not the result of intracellular stochastic events.

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