Rab5 activity regulates GLUT4 sorting into insulin-responsive and non-insulin-responsive endosomal compartments: a potential mechanism for development of insulin resistance

Endocrinology. 2014 Sep;155(9):3315-28. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-2148. Epub 2014 Jun 16.


Glucose transporter isoform 4 (GLUT4) is the insulin-responsive glucose transporter mediating glucose uptake in adipose and skeletal muscle. Reduced GLUT4 translocation from intracellular storage compartments to the plasma membrane is a cause of peripheral insulin resistance. Using a chronic hyperinsulinemia (CHI)-induced cell model of insulin resistance and Rab5 mutant overexpression, we determined these manipulations altered endosomal sorting of GLUT4, thus contributing to the development of insulin resistance. We found that CHI induced insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes by retaining GLUT4 in a Rab5-activity-dependent compartment that is unable to equilibrate with the cell surface in response to insulin. Furthermore, CHI-mediated retention of GLUT4 in this non-insulin-responsive compartment impaired filling of the transferrin receptor (TfR)-positive and TfR-negative insulin-responsive storage compartments. Our data suggest that hyperinsulinemia may inhibit GLUT4 by chronically maintaining GLUT4 in the Rab5 activity-dependent endosomal pathway and impairing formation of the TfR-negative and TfR-positive insulin-responsive GLUT4 pools. This model suggests that an early event in the development of insulin-resistant glucose transport in adipose tissue is to alter the intracellular localization of GLUT4 to a compartment that does not efficiently equilibrate with the cell surface when insulin levels are elevated for prolonged periods of time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Endosomes / genetics
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / genetics
  • Hyperinsulinism / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Mice
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptors, Transferrin / genetics
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins