Regulation of glycogen synthesis in the liver

frank q Nuttall, Daniel P. Gilboe, Mary C Gannon, Catherine B Niewoehner, Agnes W.H. Tan

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The glycogen synthase-mediated reaction is rate-limiting for glycogen synthesis in the liver. Glycogen synthase has been purified essentially to homogeneity and has been shown to be a dimer composed of identical subunits. It is regulated by a phosphorylation-dephosphorylation mechanism, catalyzed by kinases and a phosphatase. The subunits of synthase D, the most phosphorylated form, each contain approximately 17 phosphates. The subunits of synthase I, the least phosphorylated form, each contain 14 phosphates. Thus, during the transition between these two forms, a net of three phosphoryl groups is added or removed. In synthase D, six of the phosphates are alkali-labile. In synthase I, three of the phosphates are alkali-labile. Therefore, all of the phosphorylation sites important in the interconversion of these two forms are alkali-labile (attached to serine or threonine residues). In short-term experiments using isolated hepatocytes, [32p]phosphate was only incorporated into the alkali-labile sites and the phosphate in these sites was shown to turn over rapidly. Glucose addition, which is known to reduce the proportion of synthase in the D form when assayed kinetically, also reduced the [32P]phosphate content. Glucagon addition, which increases the proportion of synthase in the D form, increased it. These changes do not appear to be site-specific. Ingestion or administration of fructose, or galactose, as well as glucose, result in a shift in synthase equilibrium in favor of the less phosphorylated forms. Possible mechanisms by which synthase phosphatase activity may be increased after ingestion of glucose or fructose, and thus shift the equilibrium in favor of the less phosphorylated forms, are discussed. The mechanism by which galactose may stimulate the phosphatase reaction is completely unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of medicine
Issue number5 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Nov 28 1988


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