Acute insulin stimulation of glucose transport in fat and skeletal muscle occurs principally as a result of the hormonal induced translocation of the GLUT4 glucose transporter from intracellular vesicular stores to the plasma membrane. The precise mechanisms governing the fusion of GLUT4 vesicles with the plasma membrane are very poorly understood at present but may share some similarities with synaptic vesicle fusion, as vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP) and cellubrevin, two proteins implicated in the process of membrane fusion, are resident in GLUT4-containing vesicles isolated from rat and murine 3T3-L1 adipocytes respectively. In this study we show that proteolysis of both cellubrevin and VAMP, induced by electroporation of isolated rat adipocytes with tetanus toxin, does not impair insulin-stimulated glucose transport or GLUT4 translocation. The hormone was found to stimulate glucose uptake by approx. 16-fold in freshly isolated rat adipocytes. After a single electroporating pulse, the ability of insulin to activate glucose uptake was lowered, but the observed stimulation was nevertheless nearly 5-fold higher than the basal rate of glucose uptake. Electroporation of adipocytes with 600 nM tetanus toxin resulted in a complete loss of both cellubrevin and VAMP expression within 60 min. However, toxin-mediated proteolysis of both these proteins had no effect on the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose transport which was elevated approx. 5-fold, an activation of comparable magnitude to that observed in cells electroporated without tetanus toxin. The lack of any significant change in insulin-stimulated glucose transport was consistent with the finding that toxin-mediated proteolysis of both cellubrevin and VAMP had no detectable effect on insulin-induced translocation of GLUT4 in adipocytes. Our findings indicate that, although cellubrevin and VAMP are resident proteins in adipocyte GLUT4-containing vesicles, they are not required for the acute insulin-induced delivery of GLUT4 to the plasma membrane.

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