Effect of feeding, fasting, and diabetes on liver glycogen synthase activity, protein, and mRNA in rats

M. C. Gannon, F. Q. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Hepatic glycogen synthase activity is increased in diabetic animals. However, the relationship between enzymic activity, enzyme protein mass, and mRNA abundance has not been well characterized. In the present study, these relationships were determined in 3- and 8-day diabetic, fed and fasted rats. The results were compared to data obtained in normal fed and fasted animals. In normal rats, total synthase specific activity and protein mass were similar in the fed and fasted state. However, in fed animals, the synthase mRNA abundance was increased 1.7-fold. In 3-day diabetic rats, total synthase specific activity was increased approximately 29% compared to normal controls. It was unaffected by feeding and fasting and was associated with an approximate 15% increase in enzyme mass. Synthase mRNA was increased 1.8 and 2.6-fold in fasted and fed animals, respectively. In 8-day diabetic rats, total synthase specific activity was increased more than 2-fold compared to controls. However, the enzyme protein mass was decreased by approximately 20%. The mRNA abundance in 8-day diabetic fasted rats was only 30% of controls, while in fed rats it was increased by 40%. These data indicate that feeding and fasting have a major effect on synthase mRNA abundance which is independent of synthase activity, or protein mass, or both, in normal and diabetic animals. Total synthase specific activity increased with duration of diabetes. This was associated with only a modest change in protein mass. Thus, diabetes induces an increase in synthase catalytic efficacy. The specific activity of phosphorylase is decreased in diabetic rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-763
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
the National Institutes of Health, and Merit Review Research Funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The authors would like to thank Ping Pei, M. T., Cara Beazley, B. S., and Beverly Hesby, M. T. for excellent technical assistance; Neng Qian Chen, Ph.D. for assistance in raising antibodies in chickens; and Claudia Durand for excellent clerical assistance.


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Glycogen
  • Glycogen synthase
  • Phosphorylase
  • Rats
  • Ribonuclease protection assay
  • Western blotting
  • mRNA


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