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J Cell Physiol. 2013 Sep;228(9):1943-8. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24361.

Akt inhibition promotes hexokinase 2 redistribution and glucose uptake in cancer cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, School of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stratford, New Jersey 08084, USA.


Hexokinase II (HK2), the enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step of glycolysis, is overexpressed in many cancers, as is the central signaling kinase Akt. Akt activity promotes HK2 association with the mitochondria, as well as glucose uptake by cancer cells. In HeLa cervical cancer cells, Akt inhibitor IV (Ai4) increased nuclear HK2 localization, while in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, Ai4 merely induced cytoplasmic redistribution without increased nuclear accumulation. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) directed against Akt confirmed the effect in HeLa cells. Next, we treated the cells with clotrimazole (CTZ), which detaches HK2 from the mitochondria, or leptomycin B (LMB), which promotes HK2 nuclear accumulation, and determined the effect on HK2 subcellular distribution. In both cell lines, CTZ detached HK2 from the mitochondria, without substantially increasing nuclear HK2, while LMB increased nuclear HK2, without redistributing cytoplasmic HK2. Contrary to expectations, Akt inhibition promoted glucose uptake in both cell lines, suggesting that Akt inhibition may increase glucose uptake by detaching HK2 from the mitochondria. In both cell lines, CTZ and LMB increased glucose uptake. However, the results in the HeLa cells showed greater effects: CTZ increased glucose uptake to a similar degree to Ai4, while LMB was far more effective than either. These data suggest that both detachment of HK2 from the mitochondria and increased nuclear HK2 are important for Ai4-induced increased glucose uptake.

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