Regulated membrane trafficking of the insulin-responsive glucose transporter 4 in adipocytes

Endocr Rev. 2004 Apr;25(2):177-204. doi: 10.1210/er.2003-0011.


Since the discovery of insulin roughly 80 yr ago, much has been learned about how target cells receive, interpret, and respond to this peptide hormone. For example, we now know that insulin activates the tyrosine kinase activity of its cell surface receptor, thereby triggering intracellular signaling cascades that regulate many cellular processes. With respect to glucose homeostasis, these include the function of insulin to suppress hepatic glucose production and to increase glucose uptake in muscle and adipose tissues, the latter resulting from the translocation of the glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the cell surface membrane. Although simple in broad outline, elucidating the molecular intricacies of these receptor-signaling pathways and membrane-trafficking processes continues to challenge the creative ingenuity of scientists, and many questions remain unresolved, or even perhaps unasked. The identification and functional characterization of specific molecules required for both insulin signaling and GLUT4 vesicle trafficking remain key issues in our pursuit of developing specific therapeutic agents to treat and/or prevent this debilitating disease process. To this end, the combined efforts of numerous research groups employing a range of experimental approaches has led to a clearer molecular picture of how insulin regulates the membrane trafficking of GLUT4.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Aminopeptidases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cystinyl Aminopeptidase
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor, Insulin / chemistry
  • Receptor, Insulin / deficiency
  • Receptor, Insulin / physiology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • SLC2A4 protein, human
  • Slc2a4 protein, mouse
  • Protein Kinases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Aminopeptidases
  • Cystinyl Aminopeptidase
  • leucyl-cystinyl aminopeptidase