Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 48, Issue 2–3, pp 89–95 | Cite as

PCK1 and PCK2 as candidate diabetes and obesity genes

  • Elmus G. BealeEmail author
  • Brandy J. Harvey
  • Claude Forest


The PCK1 gene (Pck1 in rodents) encodes the cytosolic isozyme of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-C), which is well-known for its function as a gluconeogenic enzyme in the liver and kidney. Mouse studies involving whole body and tissue-specific Pck1 knockouts as well as tissue-specific over-expression of PEPCK-C have resulted in type 2 diabetes as well as several surprising phenotypes including obesity, lipodystrophy, fatty liver, and death. These phenotypes arise from perturbations not only in gluconeogenesis but in two additional metabolic functions of PEPCK-C: (1) cataplerosis which maintains metabolic flux through the Krebs cycle by removing excess oxaloacetate, and (2) glyceroneogenesis which produces glycerol-3-phosphate as a precursor for fatty acid esterification into triglycerides. PEPCK-C catalyzes the conversion of oxaloacetate + GTP to phosphoenolpyruvate + GDP + CO2. It is in part the tissue-specificity of this simple reaction that results in the variety of phenotypes listed above. Briefly: (1) A 7-fold over-expression of PEPCK-C in the livers of mice causes excessive glucose production. (2) Mice with a whole-body knockout of Pck1 die within 2–3 days of birth, not from hypoglycemia, but probably because the Krebs cycle slows to approximately 10% of normal in the absence of cataplerosis. (3) Mice with a liver-specific knockout have an inability to remove oxaloacetate from the Krebs cycle, which leads to a fatty liver following a fast. (4) An adipose-specific knockout of Pck1 results in a fraction of the mice developing lipodystrophy due to lost glyceroneogenesis and a consequent decrease in fatty acid re-esterification. (5) Finally, disregulated over-expression of PEPCK-C in adipose tissue increases fatty acid re-esterification leading to obesity. These varied experimental phenotypes in mice have led us to postulate that abnormal production of PEPCK isozymes encoded by two PEPCK genes, PCK1 and PCK2, in humans could have similar consequences (Beale, E. G. et al. (2004). Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 15, 129–135). The purpose of this review is to further explore these possibilities.


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase Gluconeogenesis Glyceroneogenesis Cataplerosis Diabetes Obesity Fatty liver Metabolic syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elmus G. Beale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brandy J. Harvey
    • 1
  • Claude Forest
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology & BiochemistryTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbockUSA
  2. 2.INSERM UMR-S 747; Université Paris DescartesCentre Universitaire - U.F.R. BiomedicaleParisFrance

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