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Cell Metab. 2007 Oct;6(4):329-37.

Glycogen synthase kinase 3alpha-specific regulation of murine hepatic glycogen metabolism.

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  • 1Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON M5G 1X5, Canada.


Glycogen synthase kinase 3 comprises two isoforms (GSK-3alpha and GSK-3beta) that are implicated in type II diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer. GSK-3 activity is elevated in human and rodent models of diabetes, and various GSK-3 inhibitors improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in rodent models of obesity and diabetes. Here, we report the generation of mice lacking GSK-3alpha. Unlike GSK-3beta mutants, which die before birth, GSK-3alpha knockout (GSK-3alpha KO) animals are viable but display enhanced glucose and insulin sensitivity accompanied by reduced fat mass. Fasted and glucose-stimulated hepatic glycogen content was enhanced in GSK-3alpha KO mice, whereas muscle glycogen was unaltered. Insulin-stimulated protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) and GSK-3beta phosphorylation was higher in GSK-3alpha KO livers compared to wild-type littermates, and IRS-1 expression was markedly increased. We conclude that GSK-3 isoforms exhibit tissue-specific physiological functions and that GSK-3alpha KO mice are insulin sensitive, reinforcing the potential of GSK-3 as a therapeutic target for type II diabetes.

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