Physiologically, a postprandial glucose rise induces metabolic signal sequences that use several steps in common in both the pancreas and peripheral tissues but result in different events due to specialized tissue functions. Glucose transport performed by tissue-specific glucose transporters is, in general, not rate limiting. The next step is phosphorylation of glucose by cell-specific hexokinases. In the β-cell, glucokinase (or hexokinase IV) is activated upon binding to a pore protein in the outer mitochondrial membrane at contact sites between outer and inner membranes. The same mechanism applies for hexokinase II in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. The activation of hexokinases depends on a contact site-specific structure of the pore, which is voltage-dependent and influenced by the electric potential of the inner mitochondrial membrane. Mitochondria lacking a membrane potential because of defects in the respiratory chain would thus not be able to increase the glucose-phosphorylating enzyme activity over basal state. Binding and activation of hexokinases to mitochondrial contact sites lead to an acceleration of the formation of both ADP and glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P). ADP directly enters the mitochondrion and stimulates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. G-6-P is an important intermediate of energy metabolism at the switch position between glycolysis, glycogen synthesis, and the pentose-phosphate shunt. Initiated by blood glucose elevation, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is accelerated in a concerted action coupling glycolysis to mitochondrial metabolism at three different points: first, through NADH transfer to the respiratory chain complex I via the malate/aspartate shuttle; second, by providing FADH2 to complex II through the glycerol-phosphate/dihydroxy-acetone-phosphate cycle; and third, by the action of hexo(gluco)kinases providing ADP for complex V, the ATP synthetase. As cytosolic and mitochondrial isozymes of creatine kinase (CK) are observed in insulinoma cells, the phosphocreatine (CrP) shuttle, working in brain and muscle, may also be involved in signaling glucose-induced insulin secretion in β-cells. An interplay between the plasma membrane-bound CK and the mitochondrial CK could provide a mechanism to increase ATP locally at the KATP channels, coordinated to the activity of mitochondrial CrP production. Closure of the KATP channels by ATP would lead to an increase of cytosolic and, even more, mitochondrial calcium and finally to insulin secretion. Thus in β-cells, glucose, via bound glucokinase, stimulates mitochondrial CrP synthesis. The same signaling sequence is used in the opposite direction in muscle during exercise when high ATP turnover increases the creatine level that stimulates mitochondrial ATP synthesis and glucose phosphorylation via hexokinase. Furthermore, this cytosolic/mitochondrial cross-talk is also involved in activation of muscle glycogen synthesis by glucose. The activity of mitochondrially bound hexokinase provides G-6-P and stimulates UTP production through mitochondrial nucleoside diphosphate kinase. Pathophysiologically, there are at least two genetically different forms of diabetes linked to energy metabolism: the first example is one form of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY2), an autosomal dominant disorder caused by point mutations of the glucokinase gene; the second example is several forms of mitochondrial diabetes caused by point and length mutations of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that encodes several subunits of the respiratory chain complexes. Because the mtDNA is vulnerable and accumulates point and length mutations during aging, it is likely to contribute to the manifestation of some forms of NIDDM. a common defect in the cytosolic-mitochondrial interplay of energy production can result in both impaired insulin secretion in the β-cell and peripheral resistance against the hormone in muscle and adipose tissue.

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