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Plant Cell. 1997 Jan;9(1):5-19.

Hexokinase as a sugar sensor in higher plants.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.


The mechanisms by which higher plants recognize and respond to sugars are largely unknown. Here, we present evidence that the first enzyme in the hexose assimilation pathway, hexokinase (HXK), acts as a sensor for plant sugar responses. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants expressing antisense hexokinase (AtHXK) genes are sugar hyposensitive, whereas plants overexpressing AtHXK are sugar hypersensitive. The transgenic plants exhibited a wide spectrum of altered sugar responses in seedling development and in gene activation and repression. Furthermore, overexpressing the yeast sugar sensor YHXK2 caused a dominant negative effect by elevating HXK catalytic activity but reducing sugar sensitivity in transgenic plants. The result suggests that HXK is a dual-function enzyme with a distinct regulatory function not interchangeable between plants and yeast.

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