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Plant Physiol. 2003 Feb;131(2):824-37.

In plants, 3-o-methylglucose is phosphorylated by hexokinase but not perceived as a sugar.

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  • 1Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Joseph Fourier, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5019 Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France.


In plants, sugars are the main respiratory substrates and important signaling molecules in the regulation of carbon metabolism. Sugar signaling studies suggested that sugar sensing involves several key components, among them hexokinase (HXK). Although the sensing mechanism of HXK is unknown, several experiments support the hypothesis that hexose phosphorylation is a determining factor. Glucose (Glc) analogs transported into cells but not phosphorylated are frequently used to test this hypothesis, among them 3-O-methyl-Glc (3-OMG). The aim of the present work was to investigate the effects and fate of 3-OMG in heterotrophic plant cells. Measurements of respiration rates, protein and metabolite contents, and protease activities and amounts showed that 3-OMG is not a respiratory substrate and does not contribute to biosynthesis. Proteolysis and lipolysis are induced in 3-OMG-fed maize (Zea mays L. cv DEA) roots in the same way as in sugar-starved organs. However, contrary to the generally accepted idea, phosphorous and carbon nuclear magnetic resonance experiments and enzymatic assays prove that 3-OMG is phosphorylated to 3-OMG-6-phosphate, which accumulates in the cells. Insofar as plant HXK is involved in sugar sensing, these findings are discussed on the basis of the kinetic properties because the catalytic efficiency of HXK isolated from maize root tips is five orders of magnitude lower for 3-OMG than for Glc and Man.

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