Variations in Glycogen Synthesis in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells with Altered Pluripotent States
A hypothetical model is presented to elucidate major signaling pathways that are associated with glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) and glycogen synthesis. (A) In this model, glucose transporter-mediated uptake of glucose is activated by an insulin-receptor signaling pathway. (B) Glucose takes part in aerobic glycolysis in the cytoplasm and oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria to produce energy for hESC proliferation and self-renewal. Presumably, excessive glucose is converted to glycogen by activated glycogen synthase (GSa) upon stress and differentiation signaling to enhance hPSC survival. Glycogen can be decomposed in the presence of phosphorylated glycogen phorsphoylase (pGP) whenever necessary. (C) The insulin signaling pathway also activates the PI3K-AKT pathway, which phosphorylates GSK-3. The GSK-3 phosphorylation leads to its inactivation and subsequently inhibits the phosphorylation of glycogen synthase (GS). Thus, activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway increases glycogen synthesis. (D) The mechanism of BMP-4-induced glycogen body formation is likely through the inhibition of GSK-3 by the putative Smad pathways. (E) The mechanism by which the GSK3i CHIR modulates the synthesis of glycogen is likely through the inhibition of GSK-3 activity, thereby altering glycogen synthase activity. (F) Concomitantly, GSK-3 inhibitors (e.g., CHIR99021 and BIO) may promote hPSC differentiation by activation of the β-catenin-WNT pathway. (G) The function of aggregated glycogen bodies is unclear and may be associated with response to extracellular stress and differentiation signals such as BMP-4. (H) Under sustained Oct-4 expression conditions, GSK3i-mediated glycogen accumulation concomitant with Wnt activation and other naïve growth components enhances the transition from the primed pluripotent to the naïve state in hPSCs. The proposed mechanisms in this model supported by this study are color-highlighted. The “?” symbols indicate inconclusive observations. The abbreviations are: 2iL, the naïve pluripotent growth condition that include GSK3i, MEKi, and LIF; 3iL, the naïve pluripotent growth condition that include GSK3i, MEKi, BMP4i, and LIF; AKT, the serine-threonine protein kinase encoded by v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog; CHIR, CHIR99021; GPi, dephosphorylated glycogen phosphorylase (inactive form); GSa, dephosphorylated glycogen synthase (active form); GSK-3, glycogen synthase kinase 3; pGPa, phosphorylated glycogen phosphorylase (active form); pGSi, phosphorylated glycogen synthase (inactive form); PI3K, the phosphoinositide 3-kinase; and β-cat, β-catenin.