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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jun 5;273(23):14063-6.

The activation of glycogen synthase by insulin switches from kinase inhibition to phosphatase activation during adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


The effects of insulin and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) on glycogen synthase activation were compared in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts and adipocytes. In the fibroblasts, PDGF elicited a stronger phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and AKT than did insulin. Both agents caused a comparable stimulation of receptor autophosphorylation, MAPK, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) activation in the adipocytes. However, adipogenesis resulted in the uncoupling of PI3-K activation by PDGF from subsequent AKT phosphorylation. The relative contributions of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inactivation and protein phosphatase-1 (PP1) activation in the regulation of glycogen synthase in both cell types were evaluated. Insulin and PDGF caused a small increase in glycogen synthase a activity in the fibroblasts. Additionally, both agents caused a similar inhibition of GSK-3, while having no effect on PP1 activity. Following differentiation, insulin treatment resulted in a 5-fold stimulation of glycogen synthase, whereas PDGF was without effect. Both agents caused a comparable inhibition of GSK-3 activity in the adipocytes, whereas only insulin activated PP1. Finally, wortmannin completely blocked the stimulation of PP1 by insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, indicating that PI3-K inhibition can impinge on PP1 activation. Cumulatively these results suggest that the weak activation of glycogen synthase in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts is mediated by GSK-3 inactivation, whereas in the more metabolically active adipocytes, the insulin-specific activation of glycogen synthase is mediated by PP1 activation.

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