The glucose transporter, GLUT4, redistributes to the plasma membrane (PM) upon insulin stimulation, but also recycles through endosomal compartments. Different Rab proteins control these transport itineraries of GLUT4. However, the specific roles played by different Rab proteins in GLUT4 trafficking has been difficult to assess, primarily due to the complexity of endomembrane organization and trafficking. To address this problem, we recently performed advanced live cell imaging using total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, which images objects ~150 nm from the PM, directly visualizing GLUT4 trafficking in response to insulin stimulation. Using IRAP-pHluorin to selectively label GSVs undergoing PM fusion in response to insulin, we identified Rab10 as the only Rab protein that binds this compartment. Rab14 was found to label transferrin-positive, endosomal compartments containing GLUT4. These also could fuse with the PM in response to insulin, albeit more slowly. Several other Rab proteins, including Rab4A, 4B and 8A, were found to mediate GLUT4 intra-endosomal recycling, serving to internalize surface-bound GLUT4 into endosomal compartments for ultimate delivery to GSVs. Thus, multiple Rab proteins regulate the circulation of GLUT4 molecules within the endomembrane system, maintaining optimal insulin responsiveness within cells.
Keywords: GLUT4; IRAP; Rab10; Rab14; TIRF; adipocytes.