To characterize the contribution of glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta) inactivation to insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism, wild-type (WT-GSK), catalytically inactive (KM-GSK), and uninhibitable (S9A-GSK) forms of GSK3beta were expressed in insulin-responsive 3T3-L1 adipocytes using adenovirus technology. WT-GSK, but not KM-GSK, reduced basal and insulin-stimulated glycogen synthase activity without affecting the -fold stimulation of the enzyme by insulin. S9A-GSK similarly decreased cellular glycogen synthase activity, but also partially blocked insulin stimulation of the enzyme. S9A-GSK expression also markedly inhibited insulin stimulation of IRS-1-associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity, but only weakly inhibited insulin-stimulated Akt/PKB phosphorylation and glucose uptake, with no effect on GLUT4 translocation. To further evaluate the role of GSK3beta in insulin signaling, the GSK3beta inhibitor lithium was used to mimic the consequences of insulin-stimulated GSK3beta inactivation. Although lithium stimulated the incorporation of glucose into glycogen and glycogen synthase enzyme activity, the inhibitor was without effect on GLUT4 translocation and pp70 S6 kinase. Lithium stimulation of glycogen synthesis was insensitive to wortmannin, which is consistent with its acting directly on GSK3beta downstream of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. These data support the hypothesis that GSK3beta contributes to insulin regulation of glycogen synthesis, but is not responsible for the increase in glucose transport.
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