Glycine N-methyltransferase deficiency in female mice impairs insulin signaling and promotes gluconeogenesis by modulating the PI3K/Akt pathway in the liver

  • Yi-Jen Liao (Contributor)
  • Tzong Shyuan Lee (Contributor)
  • Yuh Ching Twu (Contributor)
  • Shih Ming Hsu (Contributor)
  • Ching Ping Yang (Contributor)
  • Chung Kwe Wang (Contributor)
  • Yu-Chih Liang (Contributor)
  • Yi-Ming Arthur Chen (Kaohsiung Medical University) (Creator)



Abstract Background Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is abundantly expressed in the normal liver but is down-regulated in liver cancer tissues. GNMT knockout (Gnmt−/−) mice can spontaneously develop chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, and liver cancer. We previously demonstrated that hepatic GNMT is decreased in high-fat-diet-induced type 2 diabetes mellitus, but its contribution to metabolic syndrome is unclear. Here we show that GNMT modulates key aspects of metabolic syndrome in mice. Methods Eleven-week-old Gnmt−/− and wild-type (WT) mice with a C57BL/6 genetic background were used in this study. The metabolic defects of GNMT deficiency were measured by glucose and insulin tolerance tests, lipid homeostasis, gluconeogenesis, and insulin signaling. Results Gnmt−/− mice, especially females, exhibited glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. However, their body fat and lean mass, food and water intakes, and energy expenditure did not differ from those of WT mice. In addition, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and insulin-stimulated glucagon secretion were normal in the serum and pancreatic islets of Gnmt−/− mice. Importantly, we found that GNMT deficiency increased lipogenesis and triglycerides in the liver. The elevated triglycerides disrupted the ability of insulin to induce Akt and S6 ribosomal protein phosphorylation, and then triggered insulin resistance and gluconeogenesis in female Gnmt−/− mice. Conclusions Our data indicate that hepatic GNMT regulates lipid and glucose homeostasis, and provide insight into the development of insulin resistance through modulating the PI3K/Akt pathway.