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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1987 Feb 15;253(1):156-67.

Factors underlying significant underestimations of glucokinase activity in crude liver extracts: physiological implications of higher cellular activity.


M. Kuwajima, C. B. Newgard, D. W. Foster, and J. D. McGarry (1986, J. Biol. Chem. 261, 8849-8853) have concluded that the reason postprandial hepatic glycogenesis occurs primarily from gluconeogenic precursors rather than glucose is because glucokinase activity is insufficient to support the observed rates of glycogen synthesis. F. L. Alvares and R. C. Nordlie (1977, J. Biol. Chem. 252, 8404-8414) have concluded that the combined activities of glucokinase and hexokinase are less than the apparent rates of hepatic glucose uptake. We have identified several factors in the assays used in these studies which lead to substantial underestimations of glucokinase activity. Glucokinase was assayed either by allowing glucose 6-phosphate to accumulate over 10 min (discontinuous assay) or by coupling the formation of glucose 6-phosphate with its oxidation by Leuconostoc mesenteroides glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase and NAD (continuous assay). Accurate determinations of glucokinase at 37 degrees C with subsaturating glucose require both 100 mM KCl and 2.5 mM dithioerythritol in the assay medium; 2-mercaptoethanol will not substitute for dithioerythritol. When both KCl and dithioerythritol are absent (Kuwajima et al.) glucokinase activity is underestimated by 3- to 5-fold. The discontinuous assay as used previously (Alvares and Nordlie) underestimates glucokinase activity in crude extracts by 2- to 2.5-fold, due in part to the hydrolysis of glucose 6-phosphate and its transformation to other hexose monophosphates. Under optimized conditions at 37 degrees C both assays yield similar results in extracts from fed rats, i.e., 2-3 and 4-5 units/g liver at 10 and 100 mM glucose, respectively. Some implications of the finding that total hepatic glucose phosphorylating capacity at physiological concentrations significantly exceeds the observed rates of postprandial glycogen synthesis are discussed.

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