Glycogen metabolism

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Glycogen metabolism



Glycogen metabolism


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USMLE® Step 1 questions

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High Yield Notes

12 pages


Glycogen metabolism

of complete


USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

of complete

A researcher studies the effects of two hormones on the glycogen metabolism. According to the study, the two hormones mediate the breakdown of glycogen. In addition, he notices the effects of hormone X are on the liver, while the effects of hormone Y are on the skeletal muscle. Which of the following are most likely hormones X and Y?  

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Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

in glycogen regulation p. 83


glycogen metabolism p. 84

Branching enzyme (glycogen metabolism) p. 84

cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate)

glycogen regulation p. 83

Debranching enzyme

glycogen metabolism p. 84

Epinephrine p. 243

glycogen regulation and p. 84

Glucagon p. 335

glycogen regulation p. 84


glycogen metabolism p. 84

Glycogen p. 84

insulin and p. 333

periodic acid-Schiff stain p. 123

regulation of p. 84

Glycogen phosphorylase

glycogen metabolism p. 84

Glycogen synthase p. 71

glycogen metabolism p. 84

glycogen regulation p. 84

Insulin p. 335

glycogen regulation p. 71, 84

Metabolism p. 70-92

glycogen and p. 84

Protein kinase A

glycogen regulation p. 84

Skeletal muscles

glycogen metabolism in p. 84

Tyrosine kinase

glycogen regulation p. 84


Glucose is a 6-carbon molecule that’s used to make energy, in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

Glucose is such an important energy source, that our body stores excess glucose in skeletal muscle cells and liver cells in the form of glycogen.

Glycogen is basically an enormous molecule or polymer, that’s made up of glucose molecules linked together by glycosidic bonds.

You can think of glycogen having a main chain, and there being multiple branches sprouting off of it.

These branches allow glycogen to be compact and capable of rapid addition and removal of glucose.

It’s a bit like growing a plum tree in a tiny house with a short ceiling.

The short ceiling limits the tree’s vertical growth, but the tree’s able to branch off, so that it can still grow and produce many plums in a tight space.

Now let’s say that you just wrapped up a delicious lunch - you had tacos! Glucose is absorbed from the intestine and our blood sugar goes up. The pancreas responds to high blood sugar by secreting insulin.

Insulin acts on glucose transporters on the cell membrane, which are called GLUTs - and makes them bring more glucose into all the cells in our body.

Inside the cell, an enzyme called hexokinase adds a phosphate group to it’s 6th carbon, creating glucose 6 phosphate.

Then, glucose-6-phosphate is broken down during glycolysis, making ATP as a byproduct.

Over time, ATP levels start to rise and that inhibits certain enzymes in glycolysis.

When that happens, the extra glucose-6 phosphate can be used to make glycogen. And that usually takes place in the liver and muscle cells.

There are four main steps in glycogen synthesis.

First is attaching a uridine diphosphate, or UDP molecule to glucose.

Second, is attaching the glucose part of the UDP-glucose molecule to a glycogen primer called glycogenin, forming a short linear glycogen chain, which serves as a primer.


Glucagon is a hormone that helps your body to break down glycogen (a type of sugar) in the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream. This can help to raise blood sugar levels when they are too low, like during fasting. Glucagon is produced by alpha cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.


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