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Hexokinase 1
Symbol(s): HK1
Genetic data
Locus: Chr. 10 q22
Protein Structure/Function
Alternative Products: 4 known isoforms created by alternate splicing
Taxa expressing:H. sapiens; homologs in many taxa, spanning several domains
Subcellular localization:Primary:Cytoplasm; Secondary:Mitochondrion, Plasma membrane
Enzymatic Data
Catalytic activity:ATP + D-hexose = ADP + D-hexose 6-phosphate
Enzyme Regulation:inhibited by its product Glc-6-P
Medical/Biotechnological data
Diseases:Hexokinase deficiency Online 'Mendelian Inheritance in Man' (OMIM) 235700
Database Links
EC number:
Entrez: 3098
OMIM: 142600
RefSeq: NM_000188
UniProt: P19367
hexokinase 2
Symbol(s): HK2
Genetic data
Locus: Chr. 2 p13
Database Links
EC number:
Entrez: 3099
OMIM: 601125
RefSeq: NM_000189
UniProt: P52789
hexokinase 3 (white cell)
Symbol(s): HK3
Genetic data
Locus: Chr. 5 q35.2
Database Links
EC number:
Entrez: 3101
OMIM: 142570
RefSeq: NM_002115
UniProt: P52790

  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 + MgATP= → Hexose-CH2O-PO3= + MgADP- + H+

where Hexose-CH2OH represents any of several hexoses (like glucose) that contain an accessible -CH2OH moiety.

Consequences of hexose phosphorylation

Phosphorylation of a hexose (such as glucose) often commits it to a limited number of intracellular metabolic processes (such as glycolysis or glycogen synthesis). This is aided by the fact that phosphorylation also makes it 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 somewhat in their subcellular locations, kinetic characteristics with respect to different substrates and operating 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 (hexokinase A) is found in all mammalian tissues, and is considered a "housekeeping enzyme," unaffected by most physiological, hormonal, and metabolic changes.
  • Hexokinase III (or C) is inhibited by excessive glucose (substrate inhibition).

Hexokinase IV ("glucokinase")

Mammalian hexokinase IV, also referred to as glucokinase, has unique characteristics and functions compared to other hexokinases.

  • 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 the beta cells of the pancreatic islets, it serves as a glucose sensor to control insulin release, and similarly controls glucagon release in the alpha cells.
  • In hepatocytes of the liver, glucokinase responds to changes of ambient glucose levels by increasing or reducing glycogen synthesis.

Hexokinase in glycolysis

The use of glucose as an energy source in cells is via the metabolic pathway known as glycolysis. The first step of 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

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

The major reason for the immediate phosphorylation of glucose by a hexokinase is to prevent diffusion out of the cell. The phosphorylation adds a charged phosphate group so the glucose 6-phosphate cannot easily cross the cell membrane.

Association to 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 mitochondrially-generated ATP, 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[1] for the extremely high glycolytic rates that take place aerobically in tumor cells (the so-called Warburg effect described by Otto Warburg in 1930).

See also


  1. ^ Bustamante E, Pedersen P (1977). "High aerobic glycolysis of rat hepatoma cells in culture: role of mitochondrial hexokinase". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 74 (9): 3735-9. PMID 198801.
 v  d  e 
Glycolysis Metabolic Pathway
Glucose Hexokinase Glucose-6-phosphate Phosphoglucoisomerase Fructose 6-phosphate Phosphofructokinase Fructose 1,6-bisphosphate Fructose bisphosphate aldolase Dihydroxyacetone phosphate Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate Triosephosphate isomerase Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate Glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase
+ 2
NAD+ + Pi NADH + H+
1,3-Bisphosphoglycerate Phosphoglycerate kinase 3-Phosphoglycerate Phosphoglycerate mutase 2-Phosphoglycerate Enolase Phosphoenolpyruvate Pyruvate kinase Pyruvate Pyruvate dehydrogenase Acetyl-CoA
2 2 2 2 2 2
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hexokinase". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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