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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030518. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Functional characterization of MODY2 mutations highlights the importance of the fine-tuning of glucokinase and its role in glucose sensing.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular III, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain.


Glucokinase (GK) acts as a glucose sensor in the pancreatic beta-cell and regulates insulin secretion. Heterozygous mutations in the human GK-encoding GCK gene that reduce the activity index increase the glucose-stimulated insulin secretion threshold and cause familial, mild fasting hyperglycaemia, also known as Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young type 2 (MODY2). Here we describe the biochemical characterization of five missense GK mutations: p.Ile130Thr, p.Asp205His, p.Gly223Ser, p.His416Arg and p.Ala449Thr. The enzymatic analysis of the corresponding bacterially expressed GST-GK mutant proteins show that all of them impair the kinetic characteristics of the enzyme. In keeping with their position within the protein, mutations p.Ile130Thr, p.Asp205His, p.Gly223Ser, and p.His416Arg strongly decrease the activity index of GK, affecting to one or more kinetic parameters. In contrast, the p.Ala449Thr mutation, which is located in the allosteric activator site, does not affect significantly the activity index of GK, but dramatically modifies the main kinetic parameters responsible for the function of this enzyme as a glucose sensor. The reduced Kcat of the mutant (3.21±0.28 s(-1) vs 47.86±2.78 s(-1)) is balanced by an increased glucose affinity (S(0.5) = 1.33±0.08 mM vs 7.86±0.09 mM) and loss of cooperativity for this substrate. We further studied the mechanism by which this mutation impaired GK kinetics by measuring the differential effects of several competitive inhibitors and one allosteric activator on the mutant protein. Our results suggest that this mutation alters the equilibrium between the conformational states of glucokinase and highlights the importance of the fine-tuning of GK and its role in glucose sensing.

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