Metabolic adaptations in skeletal muscle overexpressing GLUT4: Effects on muscle and physical activity

Tsu Shuen Tsao, Jing Li, Kenneth S. Chang, Antine E. Stenbit, Dana Galuska, Judy E. Anderson, Juleen R. Zierath, Roger J. Mccarter, Maureen J. Charron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


To understand the long-term metabolic and functional consequences of increased GLUT4 content, intracellular substrate utilization was investigated in isolated muscles of transgenic mice overexpressing GLUT4 selectively in fast-twitch skeletal muscles. Rates of glycolysis, glycogen synthesis, glucose oxidation, and free fatty acid (FFA) oxidation as well as glycogen content were assessed in isolated EDL (fast-twitch) and soleus (slow-twitch) muscles from female and male MLC-GLUT4 transgenic and control mice. In male MLC-GLUT4 EDL, increased glucose influx predominantly led to increased glycolysis. In contrast, in female MLC-GLUT4 EDL increased glycogen synthesis was observed. In both sexes, GLUT4 overexpression resulted in decreased exogenous FFA oxidation rates. The decreased rate of FFA oxidation in male MLC-GLUT4 EDL was associated with increased lipid content in liver, but not in muscle or at the whole body level. To determine how changes in substrate metabolism and insulin action may influence energy balance in an environment that encouraged physical activity, we measured voluntary training activity, body weight, and food consumption of MLC-GLUT4 and control mice in cages equipped with training wheels. We observed a small decrease in body weight of MLC-GLUT4 mice that was paradoxically accompanied by a 45% increase in food consumption. The results were explained by a marked fourfold increase in voluntary wheel exercise. The changes in substrate metabolism and physical activity in MLC-GLUT4 mice were not associated with dramatic changes in skeletal muscle morphology. Collectively, results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of altering muscle substrate utilization by overexpression of GLUT4. The results also suggest that as a potential treatment for type II diabetes mellitus, increased skeletal muscle GLUT4 expression may provide benefits in addition to improvement of insulin action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-969
Number of pages12
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • EDL
  • Free fatty acids
  • Glycogen synthesis
  • Oleate oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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