The activity of a bifunctional enzyme, liver 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase (PFK-2)/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase (F-2,6-Pase), which regulates the level of liver fructose-2,6-bisphosphate (F-2,6-P2), the most potent activator of PFK, is modulated by its phosphorylation rate mainly catalyzed by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). To elucidate the action mechanism of sulfonylurea on liver F-2,6-P2 production, effects of tolbutamide on PKA-dependent phosphorylation of purified liver PFK-2/F-2,6-Pase protein and on kinase and phosphatase activities of the purified enzyme were examined in vitro. The purified enzyme was phosphorylated in the presence of the catalytic subunit of PKA, and tolbutamide inhibited the enzyme phosphorylation catalyzed by PKA in a dose-dependent manner. By adding the same dosages of tolbutamide used in the phosphorylation experiment, reduced activity of PFK-2 and increased activity of F-2,6-Pase in the presence of PKA were restored to the levels observed in the absence of PKA. On the other hand, carboxytolbutamide, an inactive metabolite of tolbutamide, had little effect on enzyme phosphorylation and activity. Our results indicate that tolbutamide inhibits a phosphorylation of the liver PFK-2/F-2,6-Pase catalyzed by PKA along with an activation of PFK-2 and an inactivation of F-2,6-Pase, leading to liver F-2,6-P2 production.

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