Glycogen phosphorylase in glycogen-rich cells is involved in the energy supply for ion regulation in fish gill epithelia

Yung Che Tseng, Chang Jen Huang, Joshua Chia Hsi Chang, Wen Yuan Teng, Otto Baba, Ming Ji Fann, Pung Pung Hwang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The molecular and cellular mechanisms behind glycogen metabolism and the energy metabolite translocation between mammal neurons and astrocytes have been well studied. A similar mechanism is proposed for rapid mobilization of local energy stores to support energy-dependent transepithelial ion transport in gills of the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). A novel gill glycogen phosphorylase isoform (tGPGG), which catalyzes the initial degradation of glycogen, was identified in branchial epithelial cells of O. mossambicus. Double in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry demonstrated that tGPGG mRNA and glycogen were colocalized in glycogen-rich cells (GRCs), which surround ionocytes (labeled with a Na+-K+-ATPase antiserum) in gill epithelia. Concanavalin-A (a marker for the apical membrane) labeling indicated that GRCs and mitochondria-rich cells share the same apical opening. Quantitative real-time PCR analyses showed that tGPGG mRNA expression levels specifically responded to environmental salinity changes. Indeed, the glycogen content, glycogen phosphorylase (GP) protein level and total activity, and the density of tGPGG-expressing cells (i.e., GRCs) in fish acclimated to seawater (SW) were significantly higher than those in freshwater controls. Short-term acclimation to SW caused an evident depletion in the glycogen content of GRCs. Taken altogether, tGPGG expression in GRCs is stimulated by hyperosmotic challenge, and this may catalyze initial glycogen degradation to provide the adjacent ionocytes with energy to carry out iono- and osmoregulatory functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R482-R491
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jul


  • Ionocytes
  • Na-K-ATPase
  • Osmoregulation
  • Salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Glycogen phosphorylase in glycogen-rich cells is involved in the energy supply for ion regulation in fish gill epithelia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this