The vesicle-associated membrane proteins [VAMPs; vesicle SNAP receptors (v-SNAREs)] present on GLUT4-enriched vesicles prepared from rat adipose cells [Cain, Trimble and Lienhard (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 11681–11684] have been identified as synaptobrevin 2 (VAMP 2) and cellubrevin (VAMP 3) by using isoform-specific antisera. Additional antisera identify syntaxins 2 and 4 as the predominant target membrane SNAP receptors (t-SNAREs) in the plasma membranes (PM), with syntaxin 3 at one-twentieth the level. Syntaxins 2 and 4 are enriched 5–10-fold in PM compared with low-density microsomes (LDM). Insulin treatment results in an 11-fold increase in immunodetectable GLUT4 in PM and smaller (approx. 2-fold) increases in VAMP 2 and VAMP 3, whereas the subcellular distributions of the syntaxins are not altered by insulin treatment. To determine which of the SNAP receptors (SNAREs) in PM might participate in SNARE complexes with proteins from GLUT4 vesicles, complexes were immunoprecipitated with anti-myc antibody from solubilized membranes after the addition of myc-epitope-tagged N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein (NSF) and recombinant α-soluble NSF attachment protein (α-SNAP). These complexes contain VAMPs 2 and 3 and syntaxin 4, but not syntaxins 2 or 3. Complex formation requires ATP and is disrupted by ATP hydrolysis. When all membrane fractions are prepared from basal cells, few or no VAMPs and no syntaxin 4 are immunoprecipitated in SNARE complexes obtained from LDM alone (or from immunoisolated GLUT4 vesicles). The content of syntaxin 4 depends on the presence of PM, and participation of VAMPs 2 and 3 is enhanced 4–6-fold by the addition of solubilized GLUT4 vesicles to PM. The latter increase is greater than can be explained by the 2-fold higher levels of VAMPs added to the reaction mixture. When all membrane fractions are prepared from insulin-stimulated cells, SNARE complexes formed from PM alone contain similar levels of syntaxin 4 but 5–6-fold higher levels of VAMPs 2 and 3 compared with PM alone from basal cells. Addition of GLUT4 vesicle proteins to PM from insulin-treated cells results in a further 2-fold increase in VAMP 2 recovered in SNARE complexes. Therefore the VAMPs in PM of insulin-treated but not basal cells, and in GLUT4-vesicles from cells in either condition, are in a form that readily forms a SNARE complex with PM t-SNAREs and NSF. Insulin seems to activate PM and/or GLUT4 vesicles so as to increase the efficiency of SNARE complex formation.

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Author notes

Present address: Department of Physiology, Shiga University of Medical Science, Ohtsu 520-21, Japan.