Hexokinase: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hexokinase: 1st glycolysis enzyme. Left: without glucose (shown the Glc binding pocket) (PDB 1hkg). Right: with glucose (2yhx)
EC number
CAS number 9001-51-8
IntEnz IntEnz view
ExPASy NiceZyme view
MetaCyc metabolic pathway
PRIAM profile
PDB structures
Gene Ontology AmiGO / EGO
hexokinase 1
Symbol HK1
Entrez 3098
HUGO 4922
OMIM 142600
RefSeq NM_000188
UniProt P19367
Other data
Locus Chr. 10 q22
hexokinase 2
Symbol HK2
Entrez 3099
HUGO 4923
OMIM 601125
RefSeq NM_000189
UniProt P52789
Other data
Locus Chr. 2 p13
hexokinase 3 (white cell)
Symbol HK3
Entrez 3101
HUGO 4925
OMIM 142570
RefSeq NM_002115
UniProt P52790
Other data
Locus Chr. 5 q35.2

A hexokinase is an enzyme that phosphorylates a six-carbon sugar, a hexose, to a hexose phosphate. In most tissues and organisms, glucose is the most important substrate of hexokinases, and glucose-6-phosphate the most important product.


Variation across species

Hexokinases have been found in every organism checked, ranging from bacteria, yeast, and plants to humans and other vertebrates. They are categorized as actin fold proteins, sharing a common ATP binding site core surrounded by more variable sequences that determine substrate affinities and other properties. Several hexokinase isoforms or isozymes providing different functions can occur in a single species.


The intracellular reactions mediated by hexokinases can be typified as:

Hexose-CH2OH + MgATP2− → Hexose-CH2O-PO 2−3 + MgADP + H+

where hexose-CH2OH represents any of several hexoses (like glucose) that contain an accessible -CH2OH moiety. Action of Hexokinase on Glucose

Consequences of hexose phosphorylation

Phosphorylation of a hexose such as glucose often limits it to a number of intracellular metabolic processes, such as glycolysis or glycogen synthesis. Phosphorylation makes hexose unable to move or be transported out of the cell.

Size of different isoforms

Most bacterial hexokinases are approximately 50kD in size. Multicellular organisms such as plants and animals often have more than one hexokinase isoform. Most are about 100kD in size, and consist of two halves (N and C terminal), which share much sequence homology. This suggests an evolutionary origin by duplication and fusion of a 50kD ancestral hexokinase similar to those of bacteria.

Types of mammalian hexokinase

There are four important mammalian hexokinase isozymes (EC that vary in subcellular locations and kinetics with respect to different substrates and conditions, and physiological function. They are designated hexokinases I, II, III, and IV or hexokinases A, B, C, and D.


Hexokinases I, II, and III

Hexokinases I, II, and III are referred to as "low-Km" isozymes because of a high affinity for glucose even at low concentrations (below 1 mM). Hexokinases I and II follow Michaelis-Menten kinetics at physiologic concentrations of substrates. All three are strongly inhibited by their product, glucose-6-phosphate. Molecular weights are around 100 kD. Each consists of two similar 50kD halves, but only in hexokinase II do both halves have functional active sites.

  • Hexokinase I/A is found in all mammalian tissues, and is considered a "housekeeping enzyme," unaffected by most physiological, hormonal, and metabolic changes.
  • Hexokinase II/B constitutes the principal regulated isoform in many cell types and is increased in many cancers.
  • Hexokinase III/C is substrate-inhibited by glucose at physiologic concentrations. Little is known about the regulatory characteristics of this isoform.

Hexokinase IV ("glucokinase")

Mammalian hexokinase IV, also referred to as glucokinase, differs from other hexokinases in kinetics and functions.

  • The location of the phosphorylation on a subcellular level occurs when glucokinase translocates between the cytoplasm and nucleus of liver cells. Glucokinase can only phosphorylate glucose if the concentration of this substrate is high enough; its Km for glucose is 100 times higher than that of hexokinases I, II, and III.
  • It is monomeric, about 50kD, displays positive cooperativity with glucose, and is not allosterically inhibited by its product, glucose-6-phosphate.

It is present in the liver, pancreas, hypothalamus, small intestine, and perhaps certain other neuroendocrine cells, and plays an important regulatory role in carbohydrate metabolism.

  • In hepatocytes of the liver, glucokinase responds to changes of ambient glucose levels by increasing or reducing glycogen synthesis.

Hexokinase in glycolysis

Glucose is unique in that it can be used as an energy source by all cells in both the presence and absence of molecular oxygen (O2). Glucose metabolism via the metabolic pathway known as glycolysis is importantly coupled to mitochondrial oxidative metabolism in the presence of oxygen, but glycolysis can also generate ATP in its absence. The first step in this sequence of reactions is the phosphorylation of glucose by hexokinase to prepare it for later breakdown in order to provide energy.

D-Glucose Hexokinase α-D-Glucose-6-phosphate
D-glucose wpmp.png   Glucose-6-phosphate wpmp.png
Biochem reaction arrow foward YYNN horiz med.png

Compound C00031 at KEGG Pathway Database. Enzyme at KEGG Pathway Database. Compound C00668 at KEGG Pathway Database. Reaction R01786 at KEGG Pathway Database.

By catalyzing the phosphorylation of glucose to yield glucose 6-phosphate - the first committed step of glucose metabolism - hexokinases importantly maintain the downhill concentration gradient permitting facilitated glucose transport into cells. This reaction also initiates all physiologically relevant pathways of glucose utilization, including glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway[1]. The addition of a charged phosphate group at the 6-position of hexoses also ensures 'trapping' of glucose and 2-deoxyhexose glucose analogs (e.g. 2-deoxyglucose, and 2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose) within cells, as charged hexose phosphates cannot easily cross the cell membrane.

Association with mitochondria

Hexokinases I, II, and III can associate physically to the outer surface of the external membrane of mitochondria through specific binding to a porin, or voltage dependent anion channel. This association confers hexokinase direct access to ATP generated by mitochondria, which is one of the two substrates of hexokinase. Mitochondrial hexokinase is highly elevated in rapidly-growing malignant tumor cells, with levels up to 200 times higher than normal tissues. Mitochondrially-bound hexokinase has been demonstrated to be the driving force[2] for the extremely high glycolytic rates that take place aerobically in tumor cells (the so-called Warburg effect described by Otto Heinrich Warburg in 1930).

See also


  1. ^ Robey RB & Hay N (2006). Mitochondrial hexokinases, novel mediators of the antiapoptotic effects of growth factors and Akt. Oncogene 25(34):4683-96.
  2. ^ Bustamante E, Pedersen P (1977). "voltageHigh aerobic glycolysis of rat hepatoma cells in culture: role of mitochondrial hexokinase". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 74 (9): 3735–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.74.9.3735. PMID 198801. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/74/9/3735.  


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address