Mutations in human glucokinase are implicated in the development of diabetes and hypoglycemia. Human glucokinase shares 54% identical amino acid residues with human brain hexokinase I. This similarity was used to model the structure of glucokinase by analogy to the crystal structure of brain hexokinase. Glucokinase was modeled with both its substrates, glucose and MgATP, to understand the effect of mutations. The glucose is predicted to form hydrogen bond interactions with the side chains of glucokinase residues Thr 168, Lys 169, Asn 204, Asp 205, Asn 231, and Glu 290, similar to those observed for brain hexokinase I. The magnesium ion is coordinated by the carboxylates of Asp 78 and Asp 205 and the gamma-phosphate of ATP. ATP is predicted to form hydrogen bond interactions with residues Gly 81, Thr 82, Asn 83, Arg 85, Lys 169, Thr 228, Lys 296, Thr 332, and Ser 336. Mutations of residues close to the predicted ATP binding site produced dramatic changes in the Km for ATP, the catalytic rate, and a loss of cooperativity, which confirmed our model. Mutations of residues in the glucose binding site dramatically reduced the catalytic activity, as did a mutation that was predicted to disrupt an alpha-helix. Other mutations located far from the active site gave smaller changes in kinetic parameters. In the absence of a crystal structure for glucokinase, our models help rationalize the potential effects of mutations in diabetes and hypoglycemia, and the models may also facilitate the discovery of pharmacological glucokinase activators and inhibitors.

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