Alloxan inactivated glucokinase in intact, isolated pancreatic islets incubated in vitro. Inactivation of glucokinase was antagonized by 30 mM glucose present during incubation of islets with alloxan. Glucokinase partially purified from transplantable insulinomas or rat liver was inactivated by alloxan with a half-maximal effect at 2–4 μM alloxan. Inactivation of purified glucokinase was antagonized by glucose, mannose, and 2-deoxyglucose in order of decreasing potency but not by 3-O-methylglucose. Glucose anomers at 6 and 14 mM were discriminated as protecting agents, with the α-anomer more effective than the β-anomer. Glucokinase was not protected from alloxan inactivation by N-acetylglucosamine, indicating that the reactive site for alloxan is not the active site; therefore, glucose may protect glucokinase by inducing a conformational change. Glucokinase is thought to be the glucose sensor of the pancreatic β-cell. The finding that glucokinase is inactivated by alloxan and protected by glucose with discrimination of its anomers similar to inhibition of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by alloxan supports this hypothesis and appears to explain the mechanism for inhibition of hexose-stimulated insulin secretion by this agent and the unique role of glucose and mannose as protecting agents.

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