In liver, the 470-residue bifunctional enzyme 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase (PFK-2/FBPase-2) catalyses the synthesis and degradation of fructose 2,6-bisphosphate, a potent stimulator of glycolysis. In rat hepatoma (HTC) cells, this enzyme has kinetic, antigenic, and regulatory properties, such as insensitivity to cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase and lack of associated FBPase-2 activity, that differ from those in liver. To compare the sequence of the HTC enzyme with that of the liver enzyme, we have cloned the corresponding fully-coding cDNA from HTC cells. This cDNA predicts a protein of 448 residues in which the first 32 residues of liver PFK-2/FBPase-2 including the cyclic AMP target sequence have been replaced by a unique N-terminal decapeptide. The rest of the protein is identical with the liver enzyme. An N-terminally truncated recombinant peptide of 380 residues containing the PFK-2 and FBPase-2 domains was expressed in Escherichia coli as a beta-galactosidase fusion protein. It was recognized by anti-PFK-2 antibodies but its enzymic activities were barely detectable. In contrast, a cDNA fully-coding for the HTC enzyme could be expressed in E. coli as a beta-galactosidase-free peptide that exhibited both PFK-2 and FBPase-2 activities. This peptide had those PFK-2 kinetic properties of the HTC enzyme that differ from the liver enzyme. These data, together with immunoblot experiments, suggest that the lack of associated FBPase-2 activity in HTC cells results from a post-translational modification of the enzyme rather than from the difference in amino acid sequence. As well as this peculiar type of PFK-2/FBPase-2 mRNA, HTC cells also contained low concentrations of the liver-type mRNA. Unlike in liver, neither mRNA was induced by dexamethasone in these cells.

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