During the 1950s Krebs and Edmond Fischer began investigating the process
by which muscle cells obtain energy from glycogen (the form in which
the body stores sugar). The Coris had previously demonstrated that cells
use an enzyme called phosphorylase to release glucose (the source of
energy in cell function) from glycogen. Krebs and Fischer showed that
phosphorylase could be converted from an inactive to an active form
by the addition of a phosphate group taken from the compound adenosine
triphosphate (ATP). The enzymes that catalyze this process are called
protein kinases. Krebs and Fischer also showed that phosphorylase is
inactivated by the removal of a phosphate group; this process is catalyzed
by enzymes called phosphatases. Malfunctions in protein phosphorylation
have been implicated in the causation of diseases such as diabetes,
cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
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