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Hagfish are an excellent model species in which to draw inferences on the evolution of transport systems in early vertebrates owing to their basal position in vertebrate phylogeny. Glucose is a ubiquitous cellular energy source that is transported into cells via two classes of carrier proteins: sodium-glucose-linked transporters (Sglt; Slc5a) and glucose transporters (Glut; Slc2a). Although previous pharmacological evidence has suggested the presence of both sodium-dependent and -independent transport mechanisms in the hagfish, the molecular identities were heretofore unconfirmed. We have identified and phylogenetically characterized both a Slc5a1-like and Slc2a-like gene in the Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii), the latter sharing common ancestry with other glucose-transporting isoforms of the Slc2a family. To assess the potential postprandial regulation of these glucose transporters, we examined the abundance and localization of these transporters with qPCR and immunohistochemistry alongside functional studies using radiolabeled d-[14C]glucose. The effects of glucose or insulin injection on glucose transport rate and transporter expression were also examined to determine their potential role(s) in the regulation of intestinal glucose carrier proteins. Feeding prompted an increase in glucose uptake across the hindgut at both 0.5 mM (∼84%) and 1 mM (∼183%) concentrations. Concomitant increases were observed in hindgut Slc5a1 protein expression. These effects were not observed following either of glucose or insulin injection, indicating these postprandial factors are not the driving force for transporter regulation over this timeframe. We conclude that Pacific hagfish utilize evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of glucose uptake and so represent a useful model to understand early-vertebrate evolution of glucose uptake and regulation.


Alyssa M Weinrauch, Alexander M Clifford, Erik J Folkerts, Christina M Schaefer, Marina Giacomin, Greg G Goss. Molecular identification and postprandial regulation of glucose carrier proteins in the hindgut of Pacific hagfish, Eptatretus stoutii. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. 2022 Apr 01;322(4):R336-R345

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PMID: 35138949

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