Systematic identification of arsenic-binding proteins reveals that hexokinase-2 is inhibited by arsenic

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Dec 8;112(49):15084-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1521316112. Epub 2015 Nov 23.


Arsenic is highly effective for treating acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and has shown significant promise against many other tumors. However, although its mechanistic effects in APL are established, its broader anticancer mode of action is not understood. In this study, using a human proteome microarray, we identified 360 proteins that specifically bind arsenic. Among the most highly enriched proteins in this set are those in the glycolysis pathway, including the rate-limiting enzyme in glycolysis, hexokinase-1. Detailed biochemical and metabolomics analyses of the highly homologous hexokinase-2 (HK2), which is overexpressed in many cancers, revealed significant inhibition by arsenic. Furthermore, overexpression of HK2 rescued cells from arsenic-induced apoptosis. Our results thus strongly implicate glycolysis, and HK2 in particular, as a key target of arsenic. Moreover, the arsenic-binding proteins identified in this work are expected to serve as a valuable resource for the development of synergistic antitumor therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: arsenic trioxide; glycolysis; hexokinase-2I; human proteome microarray.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Arsenic / metabolism
  • Arsenic / pharmacology*
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals / pharmacology
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Computational Biology
  • Glycolysis
  • Hexokinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxides / pharmacology
  • Proteome


  • Arsenicals
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Oxides
  • Proteome
  • Hexokinase
  • Arsenic
  • Arsenic Trioxide