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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 Mar 15;375(2):251-60.

Importance of cysteine residues for the stability and catalytic activity of human pancreatic beta cell glucokinase.

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Institute of Clinical Biochemistry, Hannover, D-30623, Germany.


The low-affinity glucose phosphorylating enzyme glucokinase has the function of a physiological glucose sensor in pancreatic beta cells and in liver. In contrast to the high-affinity hexokinase types I-III glucokinase shows extraordinary sensitivity toward SH group oxidizing compounds. To characterize the function of sulfhydryl groups cysteine residues in the vicinity of the sugar binding site (Cys 213, Cys 220, Cys 230, Cys 233, and Cys 252) as well as cysteine residues a distance from the active site (Cys 364, Cys 371, and Cys 382), they were replaced in human beta cell glucokinase by serine through site-directed mutagenesis. Controlled proteolysis of wild-type glucokinase by proteinase K revealed that the SH group oxidizing agent alloxan can induce the formation of multiple intramolecular disulfide bridges corresponding to a double-band pattern of glucokinase protein in nonreducing sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The formation of intramolecular disulfide bridges altered the mobility of the protein. None of the cysteine mutations could prevent the formation of the 49-kDa glucokinase conformation after alloxan treatment. The cysteine mutants Cys 233, Cys 252, and Cys 382 showed nearly complete loss of catalytic activity, whereas the V(max) values of the Cys 213, Cys 220, Cys 364, and Cys 371 mutants were decreased by 30-60%. Only the Cys 230 mutant showed kinetic characteristics comparable to those of wild-type glucokinase. The sensitivity of the Cys 213, Cys 230, Cys 364, and Cys 371 mutants toward alloxan-induced inhibition of enzyme activity was up to 10-fold lower compared with wild-type glucokinase. d-Glucose and dithiotreitol provided protection against alloxan-induced inhibition of wild-type glucokinase and all catalytically active cysteine mutants. Conclusively our data demonstrate the functional significance of the cysteine residues of beta cell glucokinase for both structural instability of the enzyme and catalytic function. Knowledge of sensitive cysteine targets may help to develop strategies that improve glucokinase enzyme function under conditions of oxidative stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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