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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 17;278(42):41047-58. Epub 2003 Jul 31.

Glucose metabolism in cancer: importance of transcription factor-DNA interactions within a short segment of the proximal region og the type II hexokinase promoter.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205-2185, USA.


A common signature of many cancers is a high glucose catabolic rate frequently dependent on the overexpression of Type II hexokinase (HKII), a mitochondrial bound enzyme that also suppresses cell death. As the tumor HKII promoter plays a significant role in HKII overexpression, studies reported here were undertaken to identify both the major regions and transcription factors involved under tumor-like conditions. Reporter gene assays following transfection of hepatoma cells with decreasing segments of the HKII promoter traced its known strength to the proximal region (-281 to -35). Mutational analyses showed that in this short region GC boxes 1, 2, 5, and 6, a CCAAT box, an inverted CCAAT box, and CRE are involved in promoter activation. Other studies demonstrated binding of transcription factors Sp1, Sp2, and Sp3 to GC boxes 1 and 6, Sp1 and Sp2 to GC boxes 2 and 5, NF-Y to CCAAT boxes, and CREB, ATF1, and CREM to CRE. In addition, transfection studies involving Sp1, Sp2, Sp3, CREB, and NFY (dominant negative form) provided evidence that these proteins are promoter activators. Finally, alignment of available HK proximal promoters showed strong conservation only among HKII sequences. These findings implicate signaling pathways directed to a short segment of the proximal region of the HKII promoter as major contributors to HKII overexpression in many cancers.

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