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Mol Med. 2002 March; 8(3): 120–136.
PMCID: PMC2039977

Cholesterol depletion blocks redistribution of lipid raft components and insulin-mimetic signaling by glimepiride and phosphoinositolglycans in rat adipocytes.


Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored plasma membrane (GPI) proteins, such as Gce1, the dually acylated nonreceptor tyrosine kinases (NRTKs), such as pp59(Lyn), and the membrane protein, caveolin, together with cholesterol are typical components of detergent/carbonate-insoluble glycolipid-enriched raft domains (DIGs) in the plasma membrane of most eucaryotes. Previous studies demonstrated the dissociation from caveolin and concomitant redistribution from DIGs of Gce1 and pp59(Lyn) in rat adipocytes in response to four different insulin-mimetic stimuli, glimepiride, phosphoinositolglycans, caveolin-binding domain peptide, and trypsin/NaCl-treatment. We now characterized the structural basis for this dynamic of DIG components. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Carbonate extracts from purified plasma membranes of basal and stimulated adipocytes were analyzed by high-resolution sucrose gradient centrifugation. RESULTS: This process revealed the existence of two distinct species of detergent/carbonate-insoluble complexes floating at higher buoyant density and harboring lower amounts of cholesterol, caveolin, GPI proteins, and NRTKs (lcDIGs) compared to typical DIGs of high cholesterol content (hcDIGs). The four insulin-mimetic stimuli decreased by 40-70% and increased by 2.5- to 5-fold the amounts of GPI proteins and NRTKs at hcDIGs and lcDIGs, respectively. Cholesterol depletion of adipocytes per se by incubation with methyl-beta-cyclodextrin or cholesterol oxidase also caused translocation of GPI proteins and NRTKs from hcDIGs to lcDIGs and their release from caveolin in reversible fashion without concomitant induction of insulin-mimetic signaling. Cholesterol depletion, however, reduced by 50-60% the stimulus-induced translocation as well as dissociation from hcDIGs-associated caveolin of GPI proteins and NRTKs, activation of NRTKs as well as insulin-mimetic signaling and metabolic action. In contrast, insulin-mimetic signaling induced by vanadium compounds was not significantly diminished by cholesterol depletion. CONCLUSIONS: The data provide evidence that insulin-mimetic signaling in rat adipocytes provoked by glimepiride, phosphoinositolglycans, caveolin-binding domain peptide, and trypsin/NaCl-treatment, but not vanadium compounds, relies on the dynamics of DIGs-the translocation of certain GPI proteins and NRTKs from hcDIGs to lcDIGs mediated by a trypsin/NaCl-sensitive cell surface component. The resultant stimulation of pp59(Lyn) in course of its dissociation from caveolin and incorporation into lcDIGs in combination with an lcDIGs-independent signal seems to substitute for activation of the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase.

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Articles from Molecular Medicine are provided here courtesy of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at North Shore LIJ