Mammalian pyruvate kinase (PK), a key glycolytic enzyme, has two genes named PKL and PKM, which produce the L- and R-type isoenzymes by means of alternative promoters, and the M1-and M2-types by mutually exclusive alternative splicing respectively. The expression of these genes is tissue-specific and under developmental, dietary and hormonal control. The L-type isoenzyme (L-PK) gene contains multiple regulatory elements necessary for regulation in the 5´ flanking region, up to position -170. Both L-II and L-III elements are required for stimulation of L-PK gene transcription by carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose, although the L-III element is itself responsive to carbohydrates. The L-II element is also responsible for the gene regulation by polyunsaturated fatty acids. Nuclear factor-1 proteins and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4, which bind to the L-II element, may also be involved in carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fatty acid regulation of the L-PK gene respectively. However, the L-III-element-binding protein that is involved in carbohydrate regulation remains to be clarified, although involvement by an upstream stimulating factor has been proposed. Available evidence suggests that the carbohydrate signalling pathway to the L-PK gene includes a glucose metabolite, possibly glucose 6-phosphate or xylulose 5-phosphate, as well as phosphorylation and dephosphorylation mechanisms. In addition, at least five regulatory elements have been identified in the 5´ flanking region of the PKM gene up to position -279. Sp1-family proteins bind to two proximal elements, but the binding of proteins to other elements have not yet been clarified. Glucose may stimulate the transcription of the PKM gene via hexosamine derivatives. Sp1 may be involved in this regulation via its dephosphorylation, although the carbohydrate response element has not been determined precisely in the PKM gene. Thus glucose stimulates transcription of the PKM gene by the mechanism which is probably different from the L-PK gene.

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