High resolution X-ray structure of yeast hexokinase, an allosteric protein exhibiting a non-symmetric arrangement of subunits

Thomas A. Steitz*, Robert J. Flatterick, Wayne F. Anderson, Charles M. Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


The structure determination of yeast hexokinase has been extended to 3.5 Å resolution for the dimer and to 2.7 Å resolution for the monomer using multiple isomorphous replacement. The electron density maps of both the monomer and dimer crystal forms have been substantially improved by an averaging procedure. From these maps the course of the polypeptide backbone and some aspects of the dimer interaction have been established. The hexokinase subunit arrangement is contrary to a major tenet of the Monod et al. (1965) theory of allosteric proteins which postulated that only symmetric or isologous interactions of subunits would occur in oligomeric proteins. One subunit of the dimer is related to the other by a 156 ° rotation about and a 13.8 Å translation along a molecular screw axis. In the hexokinase dimer the set of residues in one subunit that is interacting with the other subunit is different from the set of residues in the second subunit that is interacting with the first subunit. This heterologous or non-symmetric interaction of subunits is associated with some small differences in the structure of the two subunits, particularly at the subunit interface, and accounts for some of this enzyme's non-symmetric interactions with substrates and activators. Indeed, the non-symmetric subunit association may play an important role in the control of this enzyme's activity. The overall structure of hexokinase is considerably different than the known structures of the other enzymes in the glycolytic pathway. Although there is a striking similarity between the domain of hexokinase that binds AMP and the domain of lactate dehydrogenase that binds NAD, the former structure contains both antiparallel and parallel β-pleated strands, while the latter contains only parallel β-structure. In an attempt to assess the significance of this structural similarity, the structure of the nucleotide binding domains of hexokinase and lactate dehydrogenase are compared to a portion of carboxypeptidase A. The observed similarities among these structures suggests that a central β-pleated sheet flanked by α-helices is a common supersecondary structure that probably arose by convergent as well as divergent evolution. Thus, there appears to be no compelling evidence at this time to support the hypothesis that a part of hexokinase has evolved from the same gene as the dinucleotide binding domain of lactate dehydrogenase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-222
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 14 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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