Changes in the intracellular distribution of liver glycogen synthase (GS) might constitute a new regulatory mechanism for the activity of this enzyme at cellular level. Our previous studies indicated that incubation of isolated hepatocytes with glucose activated GS and resulted in its translocation from a homogeneous cytosolic distribution to the cell periphery. These studies also suggested a relationship with insoluble elements of the cytoskeleton, in particular actin. Here we show the translocation of GS in a different experimental model that allows the analysis of this phenomenon in long-term studies. We describe the reversibility of translocation of GS and its effect on glycogen distribution. Incubation of cultured rat hepatocytes with glucose activated GS and triggered its translocation to the hepatocyte periphery. The relative amount of the enzyme concentrated near the plasma membrane increased with time up to 8h of incubation with glucose, when the glycogen stores reached their maximal value. The lithium-induced covalent activation of GS was not sufficient to cause its translocation to the cell periphery. The intracellular distribution of GS closely resembled that of glycogen. Our results showed an interaction between GS and an insoluble element of the hepatocyte matrix. Although no co-localization between actin filaments and GS was observed in any condition, disruption of actin cytoskeleton resulted in a significantly lower percentage of cells in which the enzyme translocated to the cell periphery in response to glucose. This observation suggests that the microfilament network has a role in the translocation of GS.

Abbreviations used: GS, glycogen synthase; G6P, glucose 6-phosphate; DMEM, Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium; TRITC, tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate.

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