Disruption of hexokinase II-mitochondrial binding blocks ischemic preconditioning and causes rapid cardiac necrosis

Kirsten M.A. Smeele, Richard Southworth, Rongxue Wu, Chaoqin Xie, Rianne Nederlof, Alice Warley, Jessica K. Nelson, Pepijn Van Horssen, Jeroen P. Van Den Wijngaard, Sami Heikkinen, Markku Laakso, Anneke Koeman, Maria Siebes, Otto Eerbeek, Fadi G. Akar, Hossein Ardehali, Markus W. Hollmann, Coert J. Zuurbier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Isoforms I and II of the glycolytic enzyme hexokinase (HKI and HKII) are known to associate with mitochondria. It is unknown whether mitochondria-bound hexokinase is mandatory for ischemic preconditioning and normal functioning of the intact, beating heart. Objective: We hypothesized that reducing mitochondrial hexokinase would abrogate ischemic preconditioning and disrupt myocardial function. Methods and Results: Ex vivo perfused HKII +/- hearts exhibited increased cell death after ischemia and reperfusion injury compared with wild-type hearts; however, ischemic preconditioning was unaffected. To investigate acute reductions in mitochondrial HKII levels, wild-type hearts were treated with a TAT control peptide or a TAT-HK peptide that contained the binding motif of HKII to mitochondria, thereby disrupting the mitochondrial HKII association. Mitochondrial hexokinase was determined by HKI and HKII immunogold labeling and electron microscopy analysis. Low-dose (200 nmol/L) TAT-HK treatment significantly decreased mitochondrial HKII levels without affecting baseline cardiac function but dramatically increased ischemia-reperfusion injury and prevented the protective effects of ischemic preconditioning. Treatment for 15 minutes with high-dose (10 μmol/L) TAT-HK resulted in acute mitochondrial depolarization, mitochondrial swelling, profound contractile impairment, and severe cardiac disintegration. The detrimental effects of TAT-HK treatment were mimicked by mitochondrial membrane depolarization after mild mitochondrial uncoupling that did not cause direct mitochondrial permeability transition opening. Conclusions: Acute low-dose dissociation of HKII from mitochondria in heart prevented ischemic preconditioning, whereas high-dose HKII dissociation caused cessation of cardiac contraction and tissue disruption, likely through an acute mitochondrial membrane depolarization mechanism. The results suggest that the association of HKII with mitochondria is essential for the protective effects of ischemic preconditioning and normal cardiac function through maintenance of mitochondrial potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1169
Number of pages5
JournalCirculation research
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 13 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • TAT peptide
  • cardiac physiology
  • ischemia
  • mitochondria
  • reperfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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