Implications of Glucose Transporter Protein Type 1 (GLUT1)-Haplodeficiency in Embryonic Stem Cells for Their Survival in Response to Hypoxic Stress

Charles Heilig, Frank Brosius, Brian Siu, Luis Concepcion, Richard Mortensen, Kathleen Heilig, Min Zhu, Richard Weldon, Guimei Wu, David Conner

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58 Scopus citations


Glucose transporter protein type 1 (GLUT1) is a major glucose transporter of the fertilized egg and preimplantation embryo. Haploinsufficiency for GLUT1 causes the GLUT1 deficiency syndrome in humans, however the embryo appears unaffected. Therefore, here we produced heterozygous GLUT1 knockout murine embryonic stem cells (GT1+/-) to study the role of GLUT1 deficiency in their growth, glucose metabolism, and survival in response to hypoxic stress. GT1(-/-) cells were determined to be nonviable. Both the GLUT1 and GLUT3 high-affinity, facilitative glucose transporters were expressed in GT1(+/+) and GT1(+/-) embryonic stem cells. GT1(+/-) demonstrated 49 ± 4% reduction of GLUT1 mRNA. This induced a posttranscriptional, GLUT1 compensatory response resulting in 24 ± 4% reduction of GLUT1 protein. GLUT3 was unchanged. GLUT8 and GLUT12 were also expressed and unchanged in GT1(+/-). Stimulation of glycolysis by azide inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation was impaired by 44% in GT1(+/-), with impaired up-regulation of GLUT1 protein. Hypoxia for up to 4 hours led to 201% more apoptosis in GT1(+/-) than in GT1(+/+) controls. Caspase-3 activity was 76% higher in GT1(+/-) versus GT1(+/+) at 2 hours. Heterozygous knockout of GLUT1 led to a partial GLUT1 compensatory response protecting nonstressed cells. However, inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation and hypoxia both exposed their increased susceptibility to these stresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1873-1885
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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