Molecular Biology of Mammalian Glucose Transporters
The oxidation of glucose represents a major source of metabolic energy for mammaliancells. However, because the plasma membrane is impermeable to polar molecules such as glucose, the cellular uptake of this important nutrient is accomplished by membrane-associated carrier proteins that bind and transfer it across the lipid bilayer. Two classes of glucose carriers have been described in mammalian cells: the Na+-glucose cotransporter and the facilitative glucose transporter. The Na+-glucose cotransporter transports glucose against its concentration gradient by coupling its uptake with the uptake of Na+ that is being transported down its concentration gradient. Facilitative glucose c rriers accelerate the transport of glucose down its concentration gradient by facilitative diffusion, a form of passive transport. cDNAs have been isolated from human tissues encoding a Na+-glucose-cotransporter protein and five functional facilitative glucosetransporter isoforms. The Na+-glucose cotransporter is expressed by absorptive epithelial cells of the small intestine and is involved in the dietary uptake of glucose. The same or a related protein may be responsible for the reabsorption of glucose by the kidney. Facilitative glucose carriers are expressed by most if not all cells. The facilitative glucose-transporter isoforms have distinct tissue distributions and biochemical properties and contribute to the precise disposal of glucose under varying physiological conditions. The GLUT1 (erythrocyte) and GLUT3 (brain) facilitative glucose-transporter isoforms may be responsible for basal or constitutive glucose uptake. The GLUT2 (liver) isoform mediates the bidirectional transport of glucose by the hepatocyte and is responsible, at least in part, for the movement of glucose out of absorptive epithelial cells into the circulation in the small intestine and kidney. This isoform may also comprise part of the glucosesensing mechanism of the insulin-producing β-cell. The subcellular localization of the GLUT4 (muscle/fat) isoform changes in response to insulin, and this isoform is responsible for most of the insulin-stimulated uptake of glucose that occurs in muscle and adipose tissue. The GLLJT5 (small intestine) facilitative glucose-transporter isoform is expressed at highest levels in the small intestine and may be involved in the transcellular transport of glucose by absorptive epithelial cells. The exon-intron organizations of the human GLUT1, GLUT2, and GLUT4 genes have been determined. In addition, the chromosomal locations of the genes encoding the Na+-dependent and facilitative glucose carriers have been determined. Restriction-fragment-length polymorphisms have also been identified at several of these loci. The isolation and characterization of cDNAs and genes for these glucose transporters will facilitate studies of their role in the pathogenesis of disorders characterized by abnormal glucose transport, including diabetes mellitus, the glucose-galactose malabsorption syndrome, and benign renal glycosuria.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Diabetes Association