Abstract

Although the discovery of glycogen in the liver, attributed to Claude Bernard, happened more than 160 years ago, the mechanism involved in the initiation of glucose polymerization remained unknown. The discovery of glycogenin at the core of glycogen's structure and the initiation of its glucopolymerization is among one of the most exciting and relatively recent findings in Biochemistry. This review focuses on the initial steps leading to the seminal discoveries of proteoglycogen and glycogenin at the beginning of the 1980s, which paved the way for subsequent foundational breakthroughs that propelled forward this new research field. We also explore the current, as well as potential, impact this research field is having on human health and disease from the perspective of glycogen storage diseases. Important new questions arising from recent studies, their links to basic mechanisms involved in the de novo glycogen biogenesis, and the pervading presence of glycogenin across the evolutionary scale, fueled by high throughput -omics technologies, are also addressed.

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