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      Glucagon Receptor Signaling and Glucagon Resistance

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          Hundred years after the discovery of glucagon, its biology remains enigmatic. Accurate measurement of glucagon has been essential for uncovering its pathological hypersecretion that underlies various metabolic diseases including not only diabetes and liver diseases but also cancers (glucagonomas). The suggested key role of glucagon in the development of diabetes has been termed the bihormonal hypothesis. However, studying tissue-specific knockout of the glucagon receptor has revealed that the physiological role of glucagon may extend beyond blood-glucose regulation. Decades ago, animal and human studies reported an important role of glucagon in amino acid metabolism through ureagenesis. Using modern technologies such as metabolomic profiling, knowledge about the effects of glucagon on amino acid metabolism has been expanded and the mechanisms involved further delineated. Glucagon receptor antagonists have indirectly put focus on glucagon’s potential role in lipid metabolism, as individuals treated with these antagonists showed dyslipidemia and increased hepatic fat. One emerging field in glucagon biology now seems to include the concept of hepatic glucagon resistance. Here, we discuss the roles of glucagon in glucose homeostasis, amino acid metabolism, and lipid metabolism and present speculations on the molecular pathways causing and associating with postulated hepatic glucagon resistance.

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          Adipose triglyceride lipase-mediated lipolysis of cellular fat stores is activated by CGI-58 and defective in Chanarin-Dorfman Syndrome.

          Adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) was recently identified as an important triacylglycerol (TG) hydrolase promoting the catabolism of stored fat in adipose and nonadipose tissues. We now demonstrate that efficient ATGL enzyme activity requires activation by CGI-58. Mutations in the human CGI-58 gene are associated with Chanarin-Dorfman Syndrome (CDS), a rare genetic disease where TG accumulates excessively in multiple tissues. CGI-58 interacts with ATGL, stimulating its TG hydrolase activity up to 20-fold. Alleles of CGI-58 carrying point mutations associated with CDS fail to activate ATGL. Moreover, CGI-58/ATGL coexpression attenuates lipid accumulation in COS-7 cells. Antisense RNA-mediated reduction of CGI-58 expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes inhibits TG mobilization. Finally, expression of functional CGI-58 in CDS fibroblasts restores lipolysis and reverses the abnormal TG accumulation typical for CDS. These data establish an important biochemical function for CGI-58 in the lipolytic degradation of fat, implicating this lipolysis activator in the pathogenesis of CDS.
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            Sirtuin 1 and sirtuin 3: physiological modulators of metabolism.

            The sirtuins are a family of highly conserved NAD(+)-dependent deacetylases that act as cellular sensors to detect energy availability and modulate metabolic processes. Two sirtuins that are central to the control of metabolic processes are mammalian sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and sirtuin 3 (SIRT3), which are localized to the nucleus and mitochondria, respectively. Both are activated by high NAD(+) levels, a condition caused by low cellular energy status. By deacetylating a variety of proteins that induce catabolic processes while inhibiting anabolic processes, SIRT1 and SIRT3 coordinately increase cellular energy stores and ultimately maintain cellular energy homeostasis. Defects in the pathways controlled by SIRT1 and SIRT3 are known to result in various metabolic disorders. Consequently, activation of sirtuins by genetic or pharmacological means can elicit multiple metabolic benefits that protect mice from diet-induced obesity, type 2 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
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              Alpha-cells of the endocrine pancreas: 35 years of research but the enigma remains.

              Glucagon, a hormone secreted from the alpha-cells of the endocrine pancreas, is critical for blood glucose homeostasis. It is the major counterpart to insulin and is released during hypoglycemia to induce hepatic glucose output. The control of glucagon secretion is multifactorial and involves direct effects of nutrients on alpha-cell stimulus-secretion coupling as well as paracrine regulation by insulin and zinc and other factors secreted from neighboring beta- and delta-cells within the islet of Langerhans. Glucagon secretion is also regulated by circulating hormones and the autonomic nervous system. In this review, we describe the components of the alpha-cell stimulus secretion coupling and how nutrient metabolism in the alpha-cell leads to changes in glucagon secretion. The islet cell composition and organization are described in different species and serve as a basis for understanding how the numerous paracrine, hormonal, and nervous signals fine-tune glucagon secretion under different physiological conditions. We also highlight the pathophysiology of the alpha-cell and how hyperglucagonemia represents an important component of the metabolic abnormalities associated with diabetes mellitus. Therapeutic inhibition of glucagon action in patients with type 2 diabetes remains an exciting prospect.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                05 July 2019
                July 2019
                : 20
                : 13
                [1 ]Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
                [2 ]Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
                [3 ]Department of Cardiology, Nephrology and Endocrinology, Nordsjællands Hospital Hillerød, University of Copenhagen, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
                [4 ]Center for Clinical Metabolic Research, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, 2900 Hellerup, Denmark
                [5 ]Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
                [6 ]Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, 2820 Gentofte, Denmark
                [7 ]Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Rigshospitalet, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
                [8 ]Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
                Author notes

                Contributed equally to the preparation of the manuscript.

                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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