GLUT8 contains a [DE]XXXL[LI] sorting motif and localizes to a late endosomal/lysosomal compartment

Traffic. 2005 Dec;6(12):1196-212. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2005.00354.x.


Glucose transporter 8 (GLUT8) contains a cytoplasmic N-terminal dileucine motif and localizes to a thus far unidentified intracellular compartment. Translocation of GLUT8 to the plasma membrane (PM) was found in insulin-treated mouse blastocysts. Using overexpression of GLUT8 in adipocytes and neuronal cells however, insulin treatment or depolarization of the cells did not lead to GLUT8 PM translocation in other studies. In addition, other experiments showing dynamin-dependent endocytosis of GLUT8 suggested that GLUT8 recycles between an endosomal compartment and the PM. To reveal the functional/physiological role of GLUT8, we studied its subcellular localization in 3T3L1, HEK293 and CHO cells. We show that GLUT8 does not co-localize with GLUT4 and does not redistribute to the PM after treatment with insulin, ionophores or okadaic acid in these cell lines. Once endocytosed, GLUT8 does not recycle to the PM. GLUT8 localizes to late endosomes and lysosomes. An interspecies GLUT8 - sequence alignment revealed the presence of a highly conserved late endosomal/lysosomal-targeting motif ([DE]XXXL[LI]). Changing the glutamate to arginine as found in GLUT4 (RRXXXLL) alters GLUT8 endocytosis and retains the transporter at the PM. Furthermore, sorting GLUT8 to late endosomes/lysosomes does not require prior presence of GLUT8 at the PM followed by its endocytosis. In summary, GLUT8 does not reside in a recycling vesicle pool and is distinct from GLUT4. From our data, we postulate a role for GLUT8 in transport of hexoses across intracellular membranes, for example in specific compartments of GLUT8 expression such as the acrosome of mature spermatozoa or secretory granules in neurons. Furthermore, a role for GLUT8 in hexose transport across the lysosomal membrane, a transport mechanism that has long been suggested but unexplained, is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / chemistry
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / genetics
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / immunology
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Sorting Signals / physiology*


  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Slc2a4 protein, mouse
  • Slc2a8 protein, mouse