Expression of two glucose transporters, GLUT1 and GLUT3, in cultured cerebellar neurons: Evidence for neuron-specific expression of GLUT3

Mol Cell Neurosci. 1991 Aug;2(4):351-60. doi: 10.1016/1044-7431(91)90066-w.


The brain is dependent on glucose as an energy source and thus requires the expression of glucose transporter proteins to enable passage of glucose across both the endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier and the plasma membranes of neurons and glia. The GLUT 1 isoform of the facilitative glucose transporter family is expressed in the blood-brain barrier; however, the major glucose transporter isoform(s) in neurons and glia have not been identified. We have investigated the expression of glucose transporters in cultured rat cerebellar granule neurons. Two isoforms, GLUT1 and GLUT3, were detected by Western and Northern blot analyses. Expression of both isoforms increased as neurons differentiated in culture, corresponding to an increase in glucose uptake. Localization of glucose transporters by immunofluorescence indicated the presence of both isoforms in neuronal processes and in the cell body. GLUT1 was detected in both plasma membrane and cytoplasm, whereas GLUT3 appeared only in plasma membrane. Significant GLUT3 expression was also detected in the neuronal cell lines PC12 and NG108 but not in primary cultured glia or C6 glioma cells. Our findings indicate that, in the rat brain, GLUT3 expression is predominantly in neurons, suggesting that this isoform may play a major role in neuronal glucose transport.