High aerobic glycolysis of rat hepatoma cells in culture: Role of mitochondrial hexokinase

E. Bustamante, P. L. Pedersen

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A tumorigenic anchorage-dependent cell line (H-91) was established in culture from an azo-dye-induced rat ascites hepatoma. When grown in a glucose-containing medium the cells exhibit high rates of lactic acid production characteristic of rapidly growing tumor cells. However, when glucose is replaced with galactose the cells grow equally well but exhibit only moderately elevated rates of lactic acid production. The molecular basis for this observation cannot be attributed to differences in permeability because initial rates of glucose and galactose entry into hepatoma cells are identical. Rather, the activity of hexokinase (ATP:D hexose 6-phosphotransferase, EC is found to be high in hepatoma cells, about 20-fold higher than that of control and regenerating rat liver. Moreover, tumor hexokinase activity is not inhibited by low concentrations (<0.6 mM) of the reaction product glucose 6-phosphate. Additionally, 50% of the hexokinase activity of hepatoma cells is found, associated with the mitochondrial fraction. This fraction is 3-fold enriched in hexokinase activity relative to the homogenate and 4-fold enriched relative to the nuclear and postmitochondrial fractions. Tumor mitochondrial hexokinase appears to be coupled directly to oxidative phosphorylation, because addition of glucose to respiring hepatoma mitochondria (after a burst of ATP synthesis) results in stimulation of respiration. In contrast, glucose has no effect on the respiration of mitochondria from control and regenerating liver. These results suggest that the high glycolytic capacity of H-91 hepatoma cells is due, at least in part, to an elevated form of hexokinase concentrated in the mitochondrial fraction of the cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3735-3739
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes

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