The hexokinase of the hyperthermophile Thermoproteus tenax - ATP-dependent hexokinases and ADP-dependent glucokinases, two alternatives for glucose phosphorylation in Archaea
The phosphorylation of glucose by different sugar kinases plays an essential role in Archaea because of the absence of a phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent transferase system characteristic for Bacteria. In the genome of the hyperthermophilic Archaeon Thermoproteus tenax a gene was identified with sequence similarity to glucokinases of the so-called ROK family (repressor protein, open reading frame, sugar kinase). The T. tenax enzyme, like the recently described ATP-dependent "glucokinase" from Aeropyrum pernix, shows the typical broad substrate specificity of hexokinases catalyzing not only phosphorylation of glucose but also of other hexoses such as fructose, mannose, or 2-deoxyglucose, and thus both enzymes represent true hexokinases. The T. tenax hexokinase shows strikingly low if at all any regulatory properties and thus fulfills no important control function at the beginning of the variant of the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway in T. tenax. Transcript analyses reveal that the hxk gene of T. tenax is cotranscribed with an upstream located orfX, which codes for an 11-kDa protein of unknown function. Growth-dependent studies and promoter analyses suggest that post-transcriptional RNA processing might be involved in the generation of the monocistronic hxk message, which is observed only under heterotrophic growth conditions. Data base searches revealed T. tenax hexokinase homologs in some archaeal, few eukaryal, and many bacterial genomes. Phylogenetic analyses confirm that the archaeal hexokinase is a member of the so-called ROK family, which, however, should be referred to as ROK group because it represents a group within the bacterial glucokinase fructokinase subfamily II of the hexokinase family. Thus, archaeal hexokinases represent a second major group of glucose-phosphorylating enzymes in Archaea beside the recently described archaeal ADP-dependent glucokinases, which were recognized as members of the ribokinase family. The distribution of the two types of sugar kinases, differing in their cosubstrate as well as substrate specificity, within Archaea is discussed on the basis of physiological constraints of the respective organisms.
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