Endocytosis, recycling, and regulated exocytosis of glucose transporter 4

Biochemistry. 2011 Apr 19;50(15):3048-61. doi: 10.1021/bi2000356. Epub 2011 Mar 25.


Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) is responsible for the uptake of glucose into muscle and adipose tissues. Under resting conditions, GLUT4 is dynamically retained through idle cycling among selective intracellular compartments, from whence it undergoes slow recycling to the plasma membrane (PM). This dynamic retention can be released by command from intracellular signals elicited by insulin and other stimuli, which result in 2-10-fold increases in the surface level of GLUT4. Insulin-derived signals promote translocation of GLUT4 to the PM from a specialized compartment termed GLUT4 storage vesicles (GSV). Much effort has been devoted to the characterization of the intracellular compartments and dynamics of GLUT4 cycling and to the signals by which GLUT4 is sorted into, and recruited from, GSV. This review summarizes our understanding of intracellular GLUT4 traffic during its internalization from the membrane, its slow, constitutive recycling, and its regulated exocytosis in response to insulin. In spite of specific differences in GLUT4 dynamic behavior in adipose and muscle cells, the generalities of its endocytic and exocytic itineraries are consistent and an array of regulatory proteins that regulate each vesicular traffic event emerges from these cell systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • Exocytosis*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism


  • Glucose Transporter Type 4