Mitochondrial bound type II hexokinase: a key player in the growth and survival of many cancers and an ideal prospect for therapeutic intervention

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 10;1555(1-3):14-20. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2728(02)00248-7.


Despite more than 75 years of research by some of the greatest scientists in the world to conquer cancer, the clear winner is still cancer. This is reflected particularly by liver cancer that worldwide ranks fourth in terms of mortality with survival rates of no more than 3-5%. Significantly, one of the earliest discovered hallmarks of cancer had its roots in Bioenergetics as many tumors were found in the 1920s to exhibit a high glycolytic phenotype. Although research directed at unraveling the underlying basis and significance of this phenotype comprised the focus of cancer research for almost 50 years, these efforts declined greatly from 1970 to 1990 as research into the molecular and cell biology of this disease gained center stage. Certainly, this change was necessary as the new knowledge obtained about oncogenes, gene regulation, and programmed cell death once again placed Bioenergetics in the limelight of cancer research. Thus, we now have a much better molecular understanding of the high glycolytic phenotype of many cancers, the pivotal roles that Type II hexokinase-mitochondrial interactions play in this process to promote tumor cell growth and survival, and how this new knowledge can lead to improved therapies that may ultimately turn the tide on our losing war on cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycolysis
  • Hexokinase / biosynthesis
  • Hexokinase / chemistry
  • Hexokinase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phenotype


  • Hexokinase