Glycogen synthesis was investigated by giving tritium (H3)-labeled glucose with carrier to fasted rats in vivo or incubating liver slices from fasted rats in vitro using a glucose-H3-containing medium. After 15 min or 1 hr, pieces of liver were fixed and radioautographed for light and electron microscopy. In vivo and in vitro, radioautographic reactions appeared over "glycogen areas" and over zones transitional between these areas and ergastoplasm. Treatment of sections by alpha amylase removed all but about 5% of the radioactivity, so that about 95% of it consisted of glycogen (synthesized during the 15 min or 1 hr elapsing after administration of glucose-H3). Within glycogen areas and transitional zones, most silver grains were over or very close to glycogen granules and smooth (or partly smooth) vesicles. Presumably, much of the label was added onto growing glycogen granules, in accord with the biochemical view that glycogen may serve as substrate for further glycogen synthesis. The few silver grains located far from glycogen granules—15% at the 15 min interval in vivo—approximated smooth (or partly smooth) vesicles of endoplasmic reticulum. This observation raised the possibility that smooth membranes play a role in glucose uptake at an early stage in de novo formation of glycogen granules.

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