Two different partial sequences encoding putative hexokinase (HXK, ATP: hexose-6-phosphotransferase, EC 220.127.116.11) were isolated from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) by RT-PCR using degenerate primers. Southern blot analysis suggested the existence of two divergent HXK genes. A complete cDNA of one HXK was isolated by screening a cDNA library prepared from young cherry tomato fruit. The 1770 bp cDNA of LeHXK2 contained an open reading frame encoding a 496 amino acid protein that has 69% identity with the two Arabidopsis HXKs, 83 and 85% identity with potato StHXK1 and tobacco NtHXK, respectively. However, this clone had 97% amino acid identity with potato StHXK2 and, therefore, was named LeHXK2. LeHXK2 cDNA was expressed in a triple mutant yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) strain which lacked the ability to phosphorylate glucose and fructose and, therefore, was unable to grow on these sugars as carbon sources. Mutant cells expressing LeHXK2 grew on both glucose and fructose with shorter doubling time on glucose. The kinetic properties of LeHXK2 expressed in yeast were determined after the purification of LeHXK2 by HPLC-ion exchange chromatography, confirming the identity of LeHXK2 as hexokinase with higher affinity to glucose. LeHXK2 mRNA was detected by RT-PCR expression analysis in all organs and tissues and at all stages of fruit development. However, semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that LeHXK2 was most highly expressed in flowers.
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