Cardiac expression and location of hexokinase changes in a mouse model of pure creatine deficiency

Jelena Branovets, Niina Karro, Karina Barsunova, Martin Laasmaa, Craig A Lygate, Marko Vendelin, Rikke Birkedal

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2021 Feb 1;320(2):H613-H629


Creatine kinase (CK) is considered the main phosphotransfer system in the heart, important for overcoming diffusion restrictions and regulating mitochondrial respiration. It is substrate limited in creatine-deficient mice lacking l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) or guanidinoacetate N-methyltranferase (GAMT). Our aim was to determine the expression, activity, and mitochondrial coupling of hexokinase (HK) and adenylate kinase (AK), as these represent alternative energy transfer systems. In permeabilized cardiomyocytes, we assessed how much endogenous ADP generated by HK, AK, or CK stimulated mitochondrial respiration and how much was channeled to mitochondria. In whole heart homogenates, and cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions, we measured the activities of AK, CK, and HK. Lastly, we assessed the expression of the major HK, AK, and CK isoforms. Overall, respiration stimulated by HK, AK, and CK was ∼25, 90, and 80%, respectively, of the maximal respiration rate, and ∼20, 0, and 25%, respectively, was channeled to the mitochondria. The activity, distribution, and expression of HK, AK, and CK did not change in GAMT knockout (KO) mice. In AGAT KO mice, we found no changes in AK, but we found a higher HK activity in the mitochondrial fraction, greater expression of HK I, but a lower stimulation of respiration by HK. Our findings suggest that mouse hearts depend less on phosphotransfer systems to facilitate ADP flux across the mitochondrial membrane. In AGAT KO mice, which are a model of pure creatine deficiency, the changes in HK may reflect changes in metabolism as well as influence mitochondrial regulation and reactive oxygen species production.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY In creatine-deficient AGAT-/- and GAMT-/- mice, the myocardial creatine kinase system is substrate limited. It is unknown whether subcellular localization and mitochondrial ADP channeling by hexokinase and adenylate kinase may compensate as alternative phosphotransfer systems. Our results show no changes in adenylate kinase, which is the main alternative to creatine kinase in heart. However, we found increased expression and activity of hexokinase I in AGAT-/- cardiomyocytes. This could affect mitochondrial regulation and reactive oxygen species production.

Keywords: adenylate kinase; cardiac energetics; creatine kinase; creatine-deficient mice; hexokinase.