An intact hydrophobic N-terminal sequence is critical for binding of rat brain hexokinase to mitochondria

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1985 Jan;236(1):328-37. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(85)90633-2.


The N-terminal sequence of rat brain hexokinase (ATP: D-hexose-6-phosphotransferase, EC has been determined to be X-NH-Met-Ile-(Ala, Gln)-Ala-Leu-Leu-Ala-Tyr-, where X is a blocking group on the N-terminal methionine, probably an N-acetyl group. Modification of this hydrophobic N-terminal segment by endogenous proteases in crude brain extracts resulted in loss of the ability to bind to mitochondria, but had no effect on catalytic activity, resulting in the appearance of nonbindable enzyme reported by several previous investigators to be present in purified hexokinase preparations. Similar results can be obtained by deliberate limited digestion with chymotrypsin (cleavage points marked by arrows in sequence above). Both bindable and nonbindable enzyme, the latter generated either by endogenous proteases or with chymotrypsin, have an identical C-terminal dipeptide sequence, Ile-Ala. The great susceptibility of the N-terminus to proteolysis plus the marked effect that its proteolytic modification has on binding of hexokinase to anion exchange or hydrophobic (phenyl-Sepharose) matrices suggest that this N-terminal segment is prominently displayed at the enzyme surface. Epitopes recognized by two monoclonal antibodies which block binding of hexokinase to mitochondria (but have no effect on catalytic activity) have been mapped to a 10K fragment cleaved from the N-terminus by limited tryptic digestion. Thus the binding of hexokinase to mitochondria appears to occur via a "binding domain" constituting the N-terminal region of the molecule, with maintenance of an intact hydrophobic sequence at the extreme N-terminus being critical to this interaction. A resulting specific orientation of the molecule on the mitochondrial surface is considered to be a prerequisite for the observed coupling of hexokinase activity and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Chymotrypsin
  • Epitopes
  • Hexokinase / metabolism*
  • Isoelectric Focusing
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats


  • Amino Acids
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Epitopes
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Hexokinase
  • Chymotrypsin