Glucose transporters in the regulation of intestinal, renal, and liver glucose fluxes

Am J Physiol. 1996 Apr;270(4 Pt 1):G541-53. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1996.270.4.G541.


Five functional mammalian facilitated hexose carriers (GLUTs) have been characterized by molecular cloning. By functional expression in heterologous systems, their specificity and affinity for different hexoses have been defined. There are three high-affinity transporters (GLUT-1, GLUT-3 and GLUT-4) and one low-affinity transporter (GLUT-2), and GLUT-5 is primarily a fructose carrier. Because their Michaelis constants (Km) are below the normal blood glucose concentration, the high-affinity transporters function at rates close to maximal velocity. Thus their level of cell surface expression greatly influences the rate of glucose uptake into the cells. In contrast, the rate of glucose uptake by GLUT-2 (Km = 17 mM) increases in parallel with the rise in blood glucose over the physiological concentration range. High-affinity transporters are found in almost every tissue, but their expression is higher in cells with high glycolytic activity. Glut-2, however, is found in tissues carrying large glucose fluxes, such as intestine, kidney, and liver. As an adaptive response to variations in metabolic conditions, the expression of these transporters is regulated by glucose and different hormones. Thus, because of their specific characteristics and regulated expression, the facilitated glucose transporters control fundamental aspects of glucose homeostasis. I review data pertaining to the structure and regulated expression of the glucose carriers present in intestine, kidney, and liver and discuss their role in the control of glucose flux into or out of these different tissues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / physiology*


  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Glucose