Many hormones that affect individual physiological processes including the regulation of appetite, absorption, transport, and oxidation of foodstuffs influence energy metabolism pathways. While insulin mediates the storage of excess nutrients, glucagon is involved in the mobilization of energy resources in response to low blood glucose levels, principally by stimulating hepatic glucose output. Small doses of glucagon are sufficient to induce significant glucose elevations. These hormone-driven regulatory pathways enable the body to sense and respond to changed amounts of nutrients in the blood and demands for energy.
Glucagon and Insulin act through various metabolites and enzymes that target specific steps in metabolic pathways for sugar and fatty acids. The processes responsible for the long-term control of fat synthesis and short term control of glycolysis by key metabolic products and enzymes are annotated in this module as six specific pathways:
Pathway 1. Glucagon signalling in metabolic pathways: In response to low blood glucose, pancreatic alpha-cells release glucagon. The binding of glucagon to its receptor results in increased cAMP synthesis, and Protein Kinase A (PKA) activation.
Pathway 2. PKA mediated phosphorylation:PKA phosphorylates key enzymes, e.g., 6-Phosphofructo-2-kinase /Fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase (PF2K-Pase) at serine 36, and regulatory proteins, e.g., Carbohydrate Response Element Binding Protein (ChREBP) at serine 196 and threonine 666.
In brief, the binding of insulin to its receptor leads to increased protein phosphatase activity and to hydrolysis of cAMP by cAMP phosphodiesterase. These events counteract the regulatory effects of glucagon.
Pathway 3: Insulin stimulates increased synthesis of Xylulose-5-phosphate (Xy-5-P). Activation of the insulin receptor results indirectly in increased Xy-5-P synthesis from Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and Fructose-6-phosphate. Xy-5-P, a metabolite of the pentose phosphate pathway, stimulates protein phosphatase PP2A.
Pathway 4: AMP Kinase (AMPK) mediated response to high AMP:ATP ratio: In response to diet with high fat content or low energy levels, the cytosolic AMP:ATP ratio is increased. AMP triggers a complicated cascade of events. In this module we have annotated only the phosphorylation of ChREBP by AMPK at serine 568, which inactivates this transcription factor.
Pathway 5: Dephosphorylation of key metabolic factors by PP2A: Xy-5-P activated PP2A efficiently dephosphorylates phosphorylated PF2K-Pase resulting in the higher output of F-2,6-P2 that enhances PFK activity in the glycolytic pathway. PP2A also dephosphorylates (and thus activates) cytosolic and nuclear ChREBP.
Pathway 6: Transcriptional activation of metabolic genes by ChREBP: Dephosphorylated ChREBP activates the transcription of genes involved in glucose metabolism such as pyruvate kinase, and lipogenic genes such as acetyl-CoA carboxylase, fatty acid synthetase, acyl CoA synthase and glycerol phosphate acyl transferase.
The illustration below summarizes this network of events. Black lines are metabolic reactions, red lines are negative regulatory events, and green lines are positive regulatory events (figure reused with permission from Veech (2003) - Copyright (2003) National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.).