Characterization of the RokA and HexA broad-substrate-specificity hexokinases from Bacteroides fragilis and their role in hexose and N-acetylglucosamine utilization

J Bacteriol. 2005 Feb;187(3):890-901. doi: 10.1128/JB.187.3.890-901.2005.


Bacteroides fragilis, a human gastrointestinal commensal and an opportunistic pathogen, utilizes simple and complex sugars and polysaccharides for growth in the large intestine and at sites of infection. Because B. fragilis lacks transport-linked sugar phosphorylation systems, cytoplasmic kinase(s) was expected to be required for the phosphorylation of hexoses and hexosamines. We have now identified two hexose kinases that are important for growth of B. fragilis on glucose, mannose, and other sugars. One kinase (RokA), a member of the ROK family of proteins, was found to be the sole kinase for activation of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (NAG). The other kinase (HexA) is responsible for the majority of the glucose kinase activity in the cell, although a hexA deletion mutant strain was not defective for growth on any substrate tested. Deletion of both the rokA and hexA kinase genes resulted in inability of the cell to use glucose, mannose, NAG, and many other sugars. We purified RokA and determined its approximate molecular mass to be 36.5 kDa. The purified RokA protein was shown to phosphorylate several substrates, including glucose, NAG, and mannose, but not N-acetylmannosamine or N-acetylneuraminic acid. Phylogenetic analysis of RokA showed that it is most similar to kinases from the Cytophaga-Flavibacterium-Bacteroides group, while HexA was most similar to other bacterial hexokinases and eukaryotic hexokinases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteroides fragilis / classification
  • Bacteroides fragilis / enzymology*
  • Bacteroides fragilis / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Hexokinase / chemistry
  • Hexokinase / genetics*
  • Hexokinase / metabolism*
  • Hexoses / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA Primers
  • Hexoses
  • Hexokinase
  • Acetylglucosamine