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Br J Cancer. 2016 Mar 29;114(7):759-66. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2016.26. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Hexokinase 2 is a determinant of neuroblastoma metastasis.

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Department of Cell Research and Immunology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.



Intersecting a genome-wide expression profile of metastatic and nonmetastatic human neuroblastoma xenograft variants with expression profiles of tumours from stage 1 and 4 neuroblastoma patients, we previously characterised hexokinase 2 (HK2) as a gene whose expression was upregulated in both metastatic neuroblastoma variants and tumours from stage 4 neuroblastoma patients.


Local and metastatic neuroblastoma cell variants as well as metastatic neuroblastoma cells genetically manipulated to downregulate the expression of HK2 were utilised for in vitro and in vivo examinations of the involvement of HK2 in neuroblastoma.


Hexokinase 2 expression and its activity levels were increased in neuroblastoma metastatic variants as compared with the local variants. The upregulation of HK2 confers upon the metastatic cells high resistance to the antiproliferative effect of the HK2 inhibitor 3-BrPa and to the chemotherapy agent Deferoxamine. The inhibition of HK2 transcript lowered the proliferation and motility of sh-HK2 cells as compared with sh-control cells. Mice that were inoculated with sh-HK2 cells had a lower incidence of local tumours, smaller tumour volumes and a diminished load of lung metastasis compared with mice inoculated with sh-control cells.


Hexokinase 2 plays a significant role in shaping the malignant phenotype of neuroblastoma and influences the progression of this disease.

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