'Insulin-like' effects of lithium ion on isolated rat adipocytes. II. Specific activation of glycogen synthase

Mol Cell Biochem. 1983;56(2):183-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00227219.


Lithium ion, like insulin, activated adipocyte glycogen synthase with or without glucose in the medium. However, the effect of lithium ion was much greater than that of insulin under both conditions. The lithium-activated glycogen synthase was stable to both Sephadex chromatography and ethanol precipitation of the enzyme, indicating that the effect of lithium ion on glycogen synthase was through covalent modification of the enzyme. Glycogen synthase was significantly activated by lithium ion under conditions where concentrations of cellular ATP were unaffected. The effect of lithium ion on glycogen synthase was rapid and observed at concentrations as low as 1 to 3 mM, reaching a maximum at the concentration of 40 mM. It was thus the most sensitive of all the effects studied (see previous paper). Insulin further stimulated glycogen synthase at low concentrations but not at maximal concentration of lithium ion. Lithium-activated glycogen synthase was inhibited by both epinephrine and dibutyryl cyclic AMP, but was not affected by the removal of extracellular Ca++. Interestingly, lithium ion had no detectable effect on basal pyruvate dehydrogenase as well as on epinephrine-stimulated phosphorylase. The failure of lithium ion to thus mimic insulin actions on pyruvate dehydrogenase and on phosphorylase suggests that the action of lithium ion on glycogen synthase is quite specific and may be mediated by stimulating a phosphatase or by inhibiting a protein kinase acting specifically on glycogen synthase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / enzymology*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Reactivators
  • Glycogen Synthase / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lithium / pharmacology*
  • Rats


  • Enzyme Reactivators
  • Lithium
  • Glycogen Synthase