The small GTPase Rab4 has been shown to participate in the subcellular distribution of GLUT4 under both basal and insulin-stimulated conditions in adipocytes. In the present work, we have characterized the effect of Rab4 ΔCT, a prenylation-deficient and thus cytosolic form of Rab4, in this process. We show that the expression of Rab4 ΔCT in freshly isolated adipocytes inhibits insulin-induced GLUT4 translocation, but only when this protein is in its GTP-bound active form. Further, it not only blocks the effect of insulin, but also that of a hyperosmotic shock, but does not interfere with the effect of zinc ions on GLUT4 translocation. Rab4 ΔCT was then shown to prevent GLUT4 translocation induced by the expression of an active form of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase or of protein kinase B, without altering the activities of the enzymes. Our results are consistent with a role of Rab4 ΔCT acting as a dominant negative protein towards Rab4, possibly by binding to Rab4 effectors.

Abbreviations used: Rab4 ΔCT, prenylation-deficient, cytosolic form of Rab4; PKB, protein kinase B; PI3-kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; KRBH, Krebs–Ringer bicarbonate buffer containing 30mM Hepes, pH7.4; IRS, insulin receptor substrate.

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