Lack of glucokinase regulatory protein expression may contribute to low glucokinase activity in feline liver

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In most mammals, glucokinase (GK) acts as a hepatic “glucose sensor” that permits hepatic metabolism to respond appropriately to changes in plasma glucose concentrations. GK activity is potently regulated by the glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP), which is encoded by the GCKR gene. GKRP binds GK in the nucleus and inhibits its activity. GK becomes active when it is released from GKRP and translocates to the cytosol. Low glucokinase (GK) activity is reported to be a principal feature of feline hepatic carbohydrate metabolism but the molecular pathways that regulate GK activity are not known. This study examined the hypothesis that species-specific differences in GKRP expression parallel the low GK activity observed in feline liver. Hepatic GKRP expression was examined using RT-PCR, immunoblot, and confocal immunomicroscopy. The results show that the GCKR gene is present in the feline genome but GCKR mRNA and the GKRP protein were absent in feline liver. The lack of GKRP expression in feline liver indicates that the low GK activity cannot be the result of GKRP-mediated inhibition of the GK enzyme. However, the absence of the permissive effects of GCKR expression on GK expression and activity may contribute to reduced GK enzyme activity in feline liver. The study results show that the cat is a natural model for GCKR knockout and may be useful to study regulation of GCKR expression and its role in hepatic glucose-sensing and carbohydrate metabolism.

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