GLUT1, the erythrocyte glucose transporter, and GLUT4, the adipose/muscle transporter, were each expressed in NIH-3T3 cells by retrovirus-mediated gene transfer. In fibroblasts overexpressing GLUT1, basal as well as insulin-stimulated deoxyglucose uptake was increased. Expression of GLUT4 was without affect on either basal or hormone stimulated hexose uptake. Localization of each of the transporters by indirect immunofluorescence revealed that, whereas GLUT1 was found primarily on the cell surface, GLUT4 was directed to vesicles in a perinuclear distribution and throughout the cytoplasm. The GLUT4-containing compartment represented neither Golgi complex nor lysosomes, as evidenced by the failure of lgp110 or Golgi mannosidase to co-localize. However, there was substantial overlap between the distribution of GLUT4 and the transferrin receptor, and some colocalization of the transporter isoform with the manose-6-phosphate receptor. In addition, when FITC-wheat germ agglutinin bound to the cell surface was allowed to internalize at 37 degrees C, it concentrated in vesicular structures coincident with GLUT4 immunoreactivity. These data establish that GLUT1 and GLUT4 contain within their amino acid sequences information which dictates targeting to distinct cellular compartments. Moreover, GLUT4 can be recognized by those cellular factors which direct membrane proteins to the endosomal pathway.

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