GLUT1 enhances mTOR activity independently of TSC2 and AMPK

Carolyn L. Buller, Charles W. Heilig, Frank C. Brosius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Enhanced GLUT1 expression in mesangial cells plays an important role in the development of diabetic nephropathy by stimulating signaling through several pathways resulting in increased glomerular matrix accumulation. Similarly, enhanced mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation has been implicated in mesangial matrix expansion and glomerular hypertrophy in diabetes. We sought to examine whether enhanced GLUT1 expression increased mTOR activity and, if so, to identify the mechanism. We found that levels of GLUT1 expression and mTOR activation, as evidenced by S6 kinase (S6K) and 4E-BP-1 phosphorylation, changed in tandem in cell lines exposed to elevated levels of extracellular glucose. We then showed that increased GLUT1 expression enhanced S6K phosphorylation by 1.7- to 2.9-fold in cultured mesangial cells and in glomeruli from GLUT1 transgenic mice. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, eliminated the GLUT1 effect on S6K phosphorylation. In cells lacking functional tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) 2, GLUT1 effects on mTOR activity persisted, indicating that GLUT1 effects were not mediated by TSC. Similarly, AMP kinase activity was not altered by enhanced GLUT1 expression. Conversely, enhanced GLUT1 expression led to a 2.4-fold increase in binding of mTOR to its activator, Rheb, and a commensurate 2.1-fold decrease in binding of Rheb to glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) consistent with mediation of GLUT1 effects by a metabolic effect on GAPDH. Thus, GLUT1 expression appears to augment mesangial cell growth and matrix protein accumulation via effects on glycolysis and decreased GAPDH interaction with Rheb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F588-F596
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes
  • MTORC1
  • Mesangial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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