At least three different glucose transport systems exist in mammalian cells. These are: (1) the constitutively active, facilitative carrier characteristic of human erythrocytes1, Hep G2 (ref. 2) cells and rat brain3; (2) the Na-dependent active transporter of kidney and small intestine4,5; and (3) the facilitative carrier of rat liver (B. Thorens and H. F. Lodish, personal communication). A fourth possible glucose transport system is the insulin-dependent carrier that may be specific to muscle and adipose tissue6. This transporter resides primarily in an intracellular compartment in resting cells from where it translocates to the cell surface upon cellular insulin exposure7-9. This raises the question of whether hormonal regulation of glucose transport is conferred by virtue of a tissue-specific signalling mechanism or a tissue-specific glucose transporter. Here we present data supporting the latter concept based upon a monoclonal antibody against the fat cell glucose transporter that identifies a unique, insulin-regulatable glucose transport protein in muscle and adipose tissue.
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