Sensing nutrients is a fundamental task for all living cells. For most eukaryotic cells glucose is a major source of energy, having significant and varied effects on cell function. Interest in identifying mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to variations in glucose concentration has increased recently. The epithelial cells lining the intestinal tract are exposed, from the luminal domain, to an environment with continuous and massive fluctuations in the levels of dietary monosaccharides. Enterocytes therefore have to sense and respond to the significant changes in the levels of luminal sugars, and regulate the expression of the intestinal glucose transporter (Na+/glucose co-transporter, SGLT1) accordingly. Our data, using a combination of in vivo and in vitro model systems, suggest that glucose in the lumen of the intestine is sensed by a glucose sensor residing on the external face of the enterocyte luminal membrane. Glucose binds to the sensor and generates an intracellular signal leading to enhancement in the expression of SGLT1. The generated signal is independent of glucose metabolism and is likely to operate via a G-protein-coupled receptor and cAMP/protein kinase A signalling cascade.

Abbreviations used: CaR, Ca2+-sensing receptor; GPCR, G-protein-coupled receptor; PKA, protein kinase A; SGLT1, Na+/glucose co-transporter.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

679th Meeting of the Biochemical Society held at the University of Essex, Colchester, 2–4 July 2003