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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1983 Jul 5;302(1108):33-45.

The role of phosphorylation in the regulation of fatty acid synthesis by insulin and other hormones.


Insulin stimulates fatty acid synthesis in white and brown fat cells as well as in liver and mammary tissue. Hormones that increase cellular cyclic AMP concentrations inhibit fatty acid synthesis, at least in white adipose tissue and liver. These changes in fatty acid synthesis occur within minutes. In white fat cells, they are brought about not only by changes in glucose transport but also changes in the activities of pyruvate kinase, pyruvate dehydrogenase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase. The basis of the alterations in pyruvate kinase activity in fat cells is not understood. Unlike the liver isoenzyme, the isoenzyme present in fat cells does not appear to be phosphorylated either in the absence or presence of hormones. The changes in pyruvate dehydrogenase activity in fat cells are undoubtedly due to changes in phosphorylation of the alpha subunits. Insulin appears to act by causing the parallel dephosphorylation of all three sites. The persistence of the effect of insulin during the preparation and subsequent incubation of mitochondria has allowed the demonstration that insulin acts mainly by stimulating pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase rather than inhibiting the kinase. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase within fat cells is phosphorylated on a number of different sites. The exposure of cells to insulin leads to activation of the enzyme and this is associated with increased phosphorylation of a specific site on the enzyme. Exposure to adrenalin, which results in a marked diminution in activity, also causes a small increase in the overall level of phosphorylation, but this increase is due to an enhanced phosphorylation of different sites; probably those phosphorylated by cyclic-AMP-dependent protein kinase. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase is one of a number of proteins in fat cells that exhibit increased phosphorylation with insulin. Others include ATP-citrate lyase, the ribosomal protein S6, the beta subunit of the insulin receptor and a heat and acid stable protein of Mr 22000. Changes in phosphorylation of ATP-citrate lyase do not appear to result in any appreciable changes in catalytic activity. A central aspect of insulin action may be the activation and perhaps release of a membrane-associated protein kinase. Plasma membranes from fat cells have been shown to contain a cyclic-nucleotide-independent kinase able to phosphorylate and activate acetyl-CoA carboxylase. Furthermore, high-speed supernatant fractions from cells previously exposed to insulin contain elevated levels of the same or similar kinase activity capable of phosphorylating both ATP-citrate lyase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase.

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