Insulin-induced cortical actin remodeling promotes GLUT4 insertion at muscle cell membrane ruffles

J Clin Invest. 2001 Aug;108(3):371-81. doi: 10.1172/JCI12348.


Insulin stimulates glucose uptake by recruiting glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) from an intracellular compartment to the cell surface; this phenomenon is defective in type 2 diabetes. Here we examine the involvement of actin filaments in GLUT4 translocation and their possible defects in insulin resistance, using L6 myotubes expressing myc-tagged GLUT4. Insulin caused membrane ruffling, a dynamic distortion of the myotube dorsal surface. Fluorescence microscopy and immunogold staining of surface GLUT4myc coupled to backscatter electron microscopy revealed a high density of this protein in membrane ruffles. The t-SNAREs syntaxin4 and SNAP-23 were also abundant in these regions. Below the membrane, GLUT4 and the vesicular protein VAMP2, but not VAMP3, colocalized with the actin structures supporting the membrane ruffles. GLUT4myc externalization and membrane ruffles were reduced by jasplakinolide and by swinholide-A, drugs that affect actin filament stability and prevent actin branching, respectively. Insulin resistance generated by prolonged (24 hours) exposure of myotubes to high glucose and insulin diminished the acute insulin-dependent remodeling of cortical actin and GLUT4myc translocation, reminiscent of the effect of swinholide-A. We propose that GLUT4 vesicle incorporation into the plasma membrane involves insulin-dependent cortical actin remodeling and that defective actin remodeling contributes to insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Actins / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / drug effects
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Qb-SNARE Proteins
  • Qc-SNARE Proteins
  • R-SNARE Proteins
  • Rats
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 3


  • Actins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Qb-SNARE Proteins
  • Qc-SNARE Proteins
  • R-SNARE Proteins
  • SNAP23 protein, human
  • Slc2a4 protein, rat
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 3
  • Glucose