The exocyst complex regulates insulin-stimulated glucose uptake of skeletal muscle cells

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Dec 1;317(6):E957-E972. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00109.2019. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Skeletal muscle handles ~80-90% of the insulin-induced glucose uptake. In skeletal muscle, insulin binding to its cell surface receptor triggers redistribution of intracellular glucose transporter GLUT4 protein to the cell surface, enabling facilitated glucose uptake. In adipocytes, the eight-protein exocyst complex is an indispensable constituent in insulin-induced glucose uptake, as it is responsible for the targeted trafficking and plasma membrane-delivery of GLUT4. However, the role of the exocyst in skeletal muscle glucose uptake has never been investigated. Here we demonstrate that the exocyst is a necessary factor in insulin-induced glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells as well. The exocyst complex colocalizes with GLUT4 storage vesicles in L6-GLUT4myc myoblasts at a basal state and associates with these vesicles during their translocation to the plasma membrane after insulin signaling. Moreover, we show that the exocyst inhibitor endosidin-2 and a heterozygous knockout of Exoc5 in skeletal myoblast cells both lead to impaired GLUT4 trafficking to the plasma membrane and hinder glucose uptake in response to an insulin stimulus. Our research is the first to establish that the exocyst complex regulates insulin-induced GLUT4 exocytosis and glucose metabolism in muscle cells. A deeper knowledge of the role of the exocyst complex in skeletal muscle tissue may help our understanding of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: GLUT4; exocyst; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Exocytosis / genetics*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Limonins / pharmacology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Rats
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / genetics


  • Exoc5 protein, rat
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Insulin
  • Limonins
  • Slc2a4 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • endosidin 2
  • Glucose