Inhibition by forskolin of insulin-stimulated glucose transport in L6 muscle cells

A. Klip, T. Ramlal, A. G. Douen, P. J. Bilan, K. L. Skorecki

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14 Scopus citations


The cardioactive diterpene forskolin is a known activator of adenylate cyclase, but recently a specific interaction of this compound with the glucose transporter has been identified that results in the inhibition of glucose transport in several human and rat cell types. We have compared the sensitivity of basal and insulin-stimulated hexose transport to inhibition by forskolin in skeletal muscle cells of the L6 line. Forskolin completely inhibited both basal and insulin-stimulated hexose transport when present during the transport assay. The inhibition of basal transport was completely reversible upon removal of the diterpene. In contrast, insulin-stimulated hexose transport did not recover, and basal transport levels were attained instead. This effect of inhibiting (or reversing) the insulin-stimulated fraction of transport is a novel effect of the diterpene. Forskolin treatment also inhibited the stimulated fraction of transport when the stimulus was by 4β-phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate, reversing back to basal levels. Half-maximal inhibition of the above-basal insulin-stimulated transport was achieved with 35-50 μM-forskolin, and maximal inhibition with 100 μM. Forskolin did not inhibit 125I-insulin binding under conditions where it caused significant inhibition of insulin-stimulated hexose transport. Forskolin significantly elevated the cyclic AMP levels in the cells; however its inhibitory effect on the above basal, insulin-stimulated fraction of hexose transport was not mediated by cyclic AMP since: (i) 8-bromo cyclic AMP and cholera toxin did not mimic this effect of the diterpene, (ii) significant decreases in cyclic AMP levels caused by 2',3'-dideoxyadenosine in the presence of forskolin did not prevent inhibition of insulin-stimulated hexose transport, (iii) isobutylmethylxanthine did not potentiate forskolin effects on glucose transport but did potentiate the elevation in cyclic AMP, and (iv) 1,9-dideoxyforskolin, which does not activate adenylate cyclase, inhibited hexose transport analogously to forskolin. We conclude that forskolin can selectively inhibit the insulin- and phorbol ester-stimulated fraction of hexose transport under conditions where basal transport is unimpaired. The results are compatible with the suggestions that glucose transporters operating in the stimulated state (insulin or phorbol ester-stimulated) differ in their sensitivity to forskolin from transporters operating in the basal state, or, alternatively, that a forskolin-sensitive signal maintains the stimulated transport rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1029
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


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