Transgenic overexpression of protein targeting to glycogen markedly increases adipocytic glycogen storage in mice

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Mar;292(3):E952-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00559.2006. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


Adipocytes express the rate-limiting enzymes required for glycogen metabolism and increase glycogen synthesis in response to insulin. However, the physiological function of adipocytic glycogen in vivo is unclear, due in part to the low absolute levels and the apparent biophysical constraints of adipocyte morphology on glycogen accumulation. To further study the regulation of glycogen metabolism in adipose tissue, transgenic mice were generated that overexpressed the protein phosphatase-1 (PP1) glycogen-targeting subunit (PTG) driven by the adipocyte fatty acid binding protein (aP2) promoter. Exogenous PTG was detected in gonadal, perirenal, and brown fat depots, but it was not detected in any other tissue examined. PTG overexpression resulted in a modest redistribution of PP1 to glycogen particles, corresponding to a threefold increase in the glycogen synthase activity ratio. Glycogen synthase protein levels were also increased twofold, resulting in a combined greater than sixfold enhancement of basal glycogen synthase specific activity. Adipocytic glycogen levels were increased 200- to 400-fold in transgenic animals, and this increase was maintained to 1 yr of age. In contrast, lipid metabolism in transgenic adipose tissue was not significantly altered, as assessed by lipogenic rates, weight gain on normal or high-fat diets, or circulating free fatty acid levels after a fast. However, circulating and adipocytic leptin levels were doubled in transgenic animals, whereas adiponectin expression was unchanged. Cumulatively, these data indicate that murine adipocytes are capable of storing far higher levels of glycogen than previously reported. Furthermore, these results were obtained by overexpression of an endogenous adipocytic protein, suggesting that mechanisms may exist in vivo to maintain adipocytic glycogen storage at a physiological set point.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Phosphorylase / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase / metabolism
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Protein Phosphatase 1
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Fabp4 protein, mouse
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Leptin
  • Ppp1r3c protein, mouse
  • Glycogen
  • Glycogen Phosphorylase
  • Glycogen Synthase
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • Protein Phosphatase 1