We have studied the control of insulin-regulated protein kinases in Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with the human insulin receptor (CHO.T cells). Among these enzymes is one that is obtained after chromatography of cell extracts on Mono-S, whose activity is decreased (7.3 +/- 1.9-fold) within 10 min of insulin treatment. This enzyme phosphorylates glycogen synthase and the largest subunit of protein synthesis eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)-2B (the guanine nucleotide exchange factor). The kinase appears to be glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), on the basis of: (1) its ability to phosphorylate a peptide based on the phosphorylation sites for GSK-3 in glycogen synthase, and (2) the finding that the fractions possessing this activity contain immunoreactive GSK-3, whose peak is coincident with that of kinase activity, as judged by immunoblotting using antibodies specific for the alpha- and beta-isoforms of GSK-3. The decrease in kinase activity induced by insulin was reversed by treatment of the column fractions with protein phosphatase-2A. These data indicate that insulin rapidly causes inactivation of GSK-3 and that this is due to phosphorylation of GSK-3. The implications of these findings for the control of glycogen and protein metabolism are discussed.

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