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1.  The P446L variant in GCKR associated with fasting plasma glucose and triglyceride levels exerts its effect through increased glucokinase activity in liver 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(21):4081-4088.
Genome-wide association studies have identified a number of signals for both Type 2 Diabetes and related quantitative traits. For the majority of loci, the transition from association signal to mutational mechanism has been difficult to establish. Glucokinase (GCK) regulates glucose storage and disposal in the liver where its activity is regulated by glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP; gene name GCKR). Fructose-6 and fructose-1 phosphate (F6P and F1P) enhance or reduce GKRP-mediated inhibition, respectively. A common GCKR variant (P446L) is reproducibly associated with triglyceride and fasting plasma glucose levels in the general population. The aim of this study was to determine the mutational mechanism responsible for this genetic association. Recombinant human GCK and both human wild-type (WT) and P446L-GKRP proteins were generated. GCK kinetic activity was observed spectrophotometrically using an NADP+-coupled assay. WT and P446L-GKRP-mediated inhibition of GCK activity and subsequent regulation by phosphate esters were determined. Assays matched for GKRP activity demonstrated no difference in dose-dependent inhibition of GCK activity or F1P-mediated regulation. However, the response to physiologically relevant F6P levels was significantly attenuated with P446L-GKRP (n = 18; P ≤ 0.03). Experiments using equimolar concentrations of both regulatory proteins confirmed these findings (n = 9; P < 0.001). In conclusion, P446L-GKRP has reduced regulation by physiological concentrations of F6P, resulting indirectly in increased GCK activity. Altered GCK regulation in liver is predicted to enhance glycolytic flux, promoting hepatic glucose metabolism and elevating concentrations of malonyl-CoA, a substrate for de novo lipogenesis, providing a mutational mechanism for the reported association of this variant with raised triglycerides and lower glucose levels.
PMCID: PMC2758140  PMID: 19643913
2.  Cellular characterisation of the GCKR P446L variant associated with type 2 diabetes risk 
Diabetologia  2011;55(1):114-122.
Translation of genetic association signals into molecular mechanisms for diabetes has been slow. The glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP; gene symbol GCKR) P446L variant, associated with inverse modulation of glucose- and lipid-related traits, has been shown to alter the kinetics of glucokinase (GCK) inhibition. As GCK inhibition is associated with nuclear sequestration, we aimed to determine whether this variant also alters the direct interaction between GKRP and GCK and their intracellular localisation.
Fluorescently tagged rat and human wild-type (WT)- or P446L-GCKR and GCK were transiently transfected into HeLa cells and mouse primary hepatocytes. Whole-cell and nuclear fluorescence was quantified in individual cells exposed to low- or high-glucose conditions (5.5 or 25 mmol/l glucose, respectively). Interaction between GCK and GKRP was measured by sensitised emission-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) efficiency.
P446L-GKRP had a decreased degree of nuclear localisation, ability to sequester GCK and direct interaction with GCK as measured by FRET compared with WT-GKRP. Decreased interaction was observed between WT-GKRP and GCK at high compared with low glucose, but not between P446L-GKRP and GCK. Rat WT-GKRP and P446L-GKRP behaved quite differently: both variants responded to high glucose by diminished sequestration of GCK but showed no effect of the P446L variant on nuclear localisation or GCK sequestration.
Our study suggests the common human P446L-GKRP variant protein results in elevated hepatic glucose uptake and disposal by increasing active cytosolic GCK. This would increase hepatic lipid biosynthesis but decrease fasting plasma glucose concentrations and provides a potential mechanism for the protective effect of this allele on type 2 diabetes risk.
PMCID: PMC3276843  PMID: 22038520
Association study; Genetics; Glucokinase; Molecular mechanism
3.  Interaction Effect of Genetic Polymorphisms in Glucokinase (GCK) and Glucokinase Regulatory Protein (GCKR) on Metabolic Traits in Healthy Chinese Adults and Adolescents 
Diabetes  2009;58(3):765-769.
OBJECTIVE— Recent studies in European populations have reported a reciprocal association of glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) gene with triglyceride versus fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels and type 2 diabetes risk. GCKR is a rate-limiting factor of glucokinase (GCK), which functions as a key glycolytic enzyme for maintaining glucose homeostasis. We examined the associations of two common genetic polymorphisms of GCKR and GCK with metabolic traits in healthy Chinese adults and adolescents.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— Two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs780094 at GCKR and rs1799884 at GCK, were genotyped in 600 healthy adults and 986 healthy adolescents. The associations of these SNPs with metabolic traits were assessed by linear regression adjusted for age, sex, and/or BMI. We also tested for the epistasis between these two SNPs and performed a meta-analysis among European and Asian populations.
RESULTS— The T-allele of GCKR rs780094 was associated with increased triglycerides (P = 5.4 × 10−7), while the A-allele of GCK rs1799884 was associated with higher FPG (P = 3.1 × 10−7). A novel interaction effect between the two SNPs on FPG was also observed (P = 0.0025). Meta-analyses strongly supported the additive effects of the two SNPs on FPG and triglycerides, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS— In support of the intimate relationship between glucose and lipid metabolisms, GCKR and GCK genetic polymorphisms interact to increase FPG in healthy adults and adolescents. These risk alleles may contribute to increased diabetes risk in subjects who harbor other genetic or environmental/lifestyle risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2646078  PMID: 19073768
4.  Evolution of Hepatic Glucose Metabolism: Liver-Specific Glucokinase Deficiency Explained by Parallel Loss of the Gene for Glucokinase Regulatory Protein (GCKR) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60896.
Glucokinase (GCK) plays an important role in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. In the liver, phosphorylation of glucose to glucose-6-phosphate by GCK is the first step for both glycolysis and glycogen synthesis. However, some vertebrate species are deficient in GCK activity in the liver, despite containing GCK genes that appear to be compatible with function in their genomes. Glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) is the most important post-transcriptional regulator of GCK in the liver; it participates in the modulation of GCK activity and location depending upon changes in glucose levels. In experimental models, loss of GCKR has been shown to associate with reduced hepatic GCK protein levels and activity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
GCKR genes and GCKR-like sequences were identified in the genomes of all vertebrate species with available genome sequences. The coding sequences of GCKR and GCKR-like genes were identified and aligned; base changes likely to disrupt coding potential or splicing were also identified.
GCKR genes could not be found in the genomes of 9 vertebrate species, including all birds. In addition, in multiple mammalian genomes, whereas GCKR-like gene sequences could be identified, these genes could not predict a functional protein. Vertebrate species that were previously reported to be deficient in hepatic GCK activity were found to have deleted (birds and lizard) or mutated (mammals) GCKR genes. Our results suggest that mutation of the GCKR gene leads to hepatic GCK deficiency due to the loss of the stabilizing effect of GCKR.
PMCID: PMC3613411  PMID: 23573289
5.  Common Polymorphisms in MTNR1B, G6PC2 and GCK Are Associated with Increased Fasting Plasma Glucose and Impaired Beta-Cell Function in Chinese Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11428.
Previous studies identified melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B), islet-specific glucose 6 phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (G6PC2), glucokinase (GCK) and glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) as candidate genes for type 2 diabetes (T2D) acting through elevated fasting plasma glucose (FPG). We examined the associations of the reported common variants of these genes with T2D and glucose homeostasis in three independent Chinese cohorts.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), MTNR1B rs10830963, G6PC2 rs16856187 and rs478333, GCK rs1799884 and GCKR rs780094, were genotyped in 1644 controls (583 adults and 1061 adolescents) and 1342 T2D patients. The G-allele of MTNR1B rs10830963 and the C-alleles of both G6PC2 rs16856187 and rs478333 were associated with higher FPG (0.0034
Common variants of MTNR1B, G6PC2 and GCK are associated with elevated FPG and impaired insulin secretion, both individually and jointly, suggesting that these risk alleles may precipitate or perpetuate hyperglycemia in predisposed individuals.
PMCID: PMC2900202  PMID: 20628598
Diabetes  2008;57(8):2253-2257.
OBJECTIVE— Hepatic glucokinase (GCK) is a key regulator of glucose storage and disposal in the liver, where its activity is competitively modulated, with respect to glucose, by binding to glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) in the presence of fructose 6-phosphate. Genome-wide association studies for type 2 diabetes identified GCKR as a potential locus for modulating triglyceride levels. We evaluated, in a general French population, the contribution of the GCKR rs1260326-P446L polymorphism to quantitative metabolic parameters and to dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia risk.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— Genotype effects of rs1260326 were studied in 4,833 participants from the prospective DESIR (Data from an Epidemiological Study on the Insulin Resistance syndrome) cohort both at inclusion and using the measurements at follow-up.
RESULTS— The minor T-allele of rs1260326 was strongly associated with lower fasting glucose (−1.43% per T-allele; P = 8 × 10−13) and fasting insulin levels (−4.23%; P = 3 × 10−7), lower homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index (−5.69%; P = 1 × 10−8), and, conversely, higher triglyceride levels (3.41%; P = 1 × 10−4) during the 9-year study. These effects relate to a lower risk of hyperglycemia (odds ratio [OR] 0.79 [95% CI 0.70–0.88]; P = 4 × 10−5) and of incident cases during the study (hazard ratio [HR] 0.83 [0.74–0.95]; P = 0.005). Moreover, an additive effect of GCKR rs1260326(T) and GCK (−30G) alleles conferred lower fasting glycemia (P = 1 × 10−13), insulinemia (P = 5 × 10−6), and hyperglycemia risk (P = 1 × 10−6).
CONCLUSIONS— GCKR-L446 carriers are protected against type 2 diabetes despite higher triglyceride levels and risk of dyslipidemia, which suggests a potential molecular mechanism by which these two components of the metabolic syndrome can be dissociated.
PMCID: PMC2494697  PMID: 18556336
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55350.
Variants in gene encoding glucokinase regulator protein (GCKR) were found to have converse effects on triglycerides and glucose metabolic traits. We aimed to investigate the influence of GCKR variants for triglycerides and glucose metabolic traits in Chinese children and adults.
Methods and Results
We genotyped two GCKR variants rs1260326 and rs1260333 in children and adults, and analyzed the association between two variants and triglycerides, glucose, insulin and HOMA-IR using linear regression model, and estimated the effect on insulin resistance using logistic regression model. Rs1260326 and rs1260333 associated with increased triglycerides in children and adults (p<0.05). In children, both variants significantly reduced insulin (p<0.05. for rs1260326, β = −0.07; for rs1260333, β = −0.07) and HOMA-IR (p<0.05. for rs1260326, β = −0.03; for rs1260333, β = −0.03). There were significant associations between two variants and insulin resistance for children. Under co-dominant model, for CT vs. CC, OR is 0.83 (95%CI 0.69–1.00) for rs1260326, and 0.83 (95%CI 0.68–1.00) for rs1260333; for TT vs. CC, OR is 0.72 (95%CI 0.58–0.88) for rs1260326, and 0.72 (95%CI 0.58–0.89) for rs1260333. Under allele model, for allele T vs. C, the ORs are 0.85 (95%CI 0.76–0.94) and 0.85 (95%CI 0.76–0.94) for rs1260326 and rs1260333, respectively).
Our study confirmed the associations between GCKR variants and triglycerides in Chinese children and adults. Triglycerides-increasing alleles of GCKR variants reduce insulin and HOMA-IR index, and protect from insulin resistance in children. Our results suggested GCKR has an effect on development of insulin resistance in Chinese children.
PMCID: PMC3561266  PMID: 23383164
Diabetes  2008;57(11):3112-3121.
OBJECTIVE—Using the genome-wide association approach, we recently identified the glucokinase regulatory protein gene (GCKR, rs780094) region as a novel quantitative trait locus for plasma triglyceride concentration in Europeans. Here, we sought to study the association of GCKR variants with metabolic phenotypes, including measures of glucose homeostasis, to evaluate the GCKR locus in samples of non-European ancestry and to fine- map across the associated genomic interval.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We performed association studies in 12 independent cohorts comprising >45,000 individuals representing several ancestral groups (whites from Northern and Southern Europe, whites from the U.S., African Americans from the U.S., Hispanics of Caribbean origin, and Chinese, Malays, and Asian Indians from Singapore). We conducted genetic fine-mapping across the ∼417-kb region of linkage disequilibrium spanning GCKR and 16 other genes on chromosome 2p23 by imputing untyped HapMap single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and genotyping 104 SNPs across the associated genomic interval.
RESULTS—We provide comprehensive evidence that GCKR rs780094 is associated with opposite effects on fasting plasma triglyceride (Pmeta = 3 × 10−56) and glucose (Pmeta = 1 × 10−13) concentrations. In addition, we confirmed recent reports that the same SNP is associated with C-reactive protein (CRP) level (P = 5 × 10−5). Both fine-mapping approaches revealed a common missense GCKR variant (rs1260326, Pro446Leu, 34% frequency, r2 = 0.93 with rs780094) as the strongest association signal in the region.
CONCLUSIONS—These findings point to a molecular mechanism in humans by which higher triglycerides and CRP can be coupled with lower plasma glucose concentrations and position GCKR in central pathways regulating both hepatic triglyceride and glucose metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2570409  PMID: 18678614
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20555.
Glucokinase Regulatory Protein (GCKR) plays a central role regulating both hepatic triglyceride and glucose metabolism. Fatty acids are key metabolic regulators, which interact with genetic factors and influence glucose metabolism and other metabolic traits. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) have been of considerable interest, due to their potential to reduce metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk.
To examine whether genetic variability at the GCKR gene locus was associated with the degree of insulin resistance, plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP) and n-3 PUFA in MetS subjects.
Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), HOMA-B, plasma concentrations of C-peptide, CRP, fatty acid composition and the GCKR rs1260326-P446L polymorphism, were determined in a cross-sectional analysis of 379 subjects with MetS participating in the LIPGENE dietary cohort.
Among subjects with n-3 PUFA levels below the population median, carriers of the common C/C genotype had higher plasma concentrations of fasting insulin (P = 0.019), C-peptide (P = 0.004), HOMA-IR (P = 0.008) and CRP (P = 0.032) as compared with subjects carrying the minor T-allele (Leu446). In contrast, homozygous C/C carriers with n-3 PUFA levels above the median showed lower plasma concentrations of fasting insulin, peptide C, HOMA-IR and CRP, as compared with individuals with the T-allele.
We have demonstrated a significant interaction between the GCKR rs1260326-P446L polymorphism and plasma n-3 PUFA levels modulating insulin resistance and inflammatory markers in MetS subjects. Further studies are needed to confirm this gene-diet interaction in the general population and whether targeted dietary recommendations can prevent MetS in genetically susceptible individuals.
Trial Registration NCT00429195
PMCID: PMC3108949  PMID: 21674002
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:66.
Several studies have shown that variants in the glucokinase regulatory protein gene (GCKR) were associated with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. The purpose of this study was to examine whether tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the GCKR region were associated with type 2 diabetes and related traits in a Han Chinese population and to identify the potential mechanisms underlying these associations.
We investigated the association of polymorphisms in the GCKR gene with type 2 diabetes by employing a case-control study design (1118 cases and 1161 controls). Four tag SNPs (rs8179206, rs2293572, rs3817588 and rs780094) with pairwise r2 > 0.8 and minor allele frequency > 0.05 across the GCKR gene and its flanking regions were studied and haplotypes were constructed. Genotyping was performed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectroscopy using a MassARRAY platform.
The G alleles of GCKR rs3817588 and rs780094 were associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes after adjustment for year of birth, sex and BMI (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.08-1.43, p = 0.002 and OR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.07-1.38, p = 0.002, respectively). In the non-diabetic controls, the GG carriers of rs3817588 and rs780094 were nominally associated with a lower plasma triglyceride level compared to the AA carriers after adjustment for year of birth, sex and BMI (p for trend = 0.00004 and 0.03, respectively). Furthermore, the association of rs3817588 with plasma triglyceride level was still significant after correcting for multiple testing.
The rs3817588 A/G polymorphism of the GCKR gene was associated with type 2 diabetes and plasma triglyceride level in the Han Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3112072  PMID: 21569451
Recent studies revealed that glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) variants (rs780094 and rs1260326) are associated with serum triglycerides and plasma glucose levels. Here we analyzed primarily the association of these two variants with the lipid profile and plasma glucose levels in Hungarian subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome; and also correlated the genotypes with the carotid intima-media thickness records.
A total of 321 type 2 diabetic patients, 455 metabolic syndrome patients, and 172 healthy controls were genotyped by PCR-RFLP.
Both GCKR variants were found to associate with serum triglycerides and with fasting plasma glucose. However, significant association with the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome could not be observed. Analyzing the records of the patients, a positive association of prevalence the GCKR homozygous functional variants and carotid intima-media thickness was found in the metabolic syndrome patients.
Our results support that rs780094 and rs1260326 functional variants of the GCKR gene are inversely associated with serum triglycerides and fasting plasma glucose levels, as it was already reported for diabetic and metabolic syndrome patients in some other populations. Besides this positive replication, as a novel feature, our preliminary findings also suggest a cardiovascular risk role of the GCKR minor allele carriage based on the carotid intima-media thickness association.
PMCID: PMC3009616  PMID: 21114848
Human genetics  2009;126(4):567-574.
Postprandial triglyceridemia is an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, most of the genes that influence postprandial triglyceridemia are not known. We evaluated whether a common nonsynonymous SNP rs1260326/P446L in the glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) gene influenced variation in the postprandial lipid response after a high-fat challenge in seven hundred and seventy participants in the Amish HAPI Heart Study who underwent an oral high-fat challenge and had blood samples taken in the fasting state and during the postprandial phase at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 hours. We found that the minor T allele at rs1260326 was associated with significantly higher fasting TG levels after adjusting for age, sex, and family structure (Pa = 0.06 for additive model, and Pr=0.0003 for recessive model). During the fat challenge, the T allele was associated with significantly higher maximum TG level (Pa = 0.006), incremental maximum TG level (Pa = 0.006), TG area under the curve (Pa = 0.02) and incremental TG area under the curve (Pa = 0.03). Our data indicate that the rs1260326 T allele of GCKR is associated with both higher fasting levels of TG as well as the postprandial TG response, which may result in higher atherogenic risk.
PMCID: PMC2918876  PMID: 19526250
GCKR; polymorphism; postprandial; lipid
Diabetologia  2011;55(1):114-122.
Translation of genetic association signals into molecular mechanisms for diabetes has been slow. The glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP) P446L variant, associated with inverse modulation of glucose- and lipid-related traits, has been shown to alter the kinetics of glucokinase (GCK) inhibition. As GCK inhibition is associated with nuclear sequestration, we aimed to determine whether this variant also alters the direct interaction between GKRP and GCK and their intra-cellular localization.
Fluorescently-tagged rat and human wild-type or P446L-GKRP and GCK were transiently transfected into HeLa cells and mouse primary hepatocytes. Whole-cell and nuclear fluorescence was quantified in individual cells exposed to low (5.5mmol/l) or high (25mmol/l) glucose conditions. Interaction between GCK and GKRP were measured by sensitized emission-based FRET efficiency (FRETN).
P446L-GKRP had a decreased degree of nuclear localization, ability to sequester GCK, and direct interaction with GCK as measured by FRET compared to WT-GKRP. Decreased interaction was observed between WT-GKRP and GCK at high (25mmol/l) compared to low glucose (5.5mmol/l) but not between P446L-GKRP and GCK. Rat WT-GKRP and P446L-GKRP behaved quite differently: both variants responded to high glucose by diminished sequestration of GCK but showed no effect of the P446L variant on nuclear localization or GCK sequestration.
Our study suggests the common human GKRP-P446L variant results in elevated hepatic glucose uptake and disposal by increasing active, cytosolic GCK. This would increase hepatic lipid biosynthesis but decrease fasting plasma glucose concentrations and provides a potential mechanism for the protective effect of this allele on type 2 diabetes risk.
PMCID: PMC3276843  PMID: 22038520
Genetics; association study; molecular mechanism; glucokinase
Diabetologia  2009;52(9):1866-1870.
Variation in fasting plasma glucose (FPG) within the normal range is a known risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Several reports have shown that genetic variation in the genes for glucokinase (GCK), glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR), islet-specific glucose 6 phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (G6PC2) and melatonin receptor type 1B (MTNR1B) is associated with FPG. In this study we examined whether these loci also contribute to type 2 diabetes susceptibility.
A random selection from the Dutch New Hoorn Study was used for replication of the association with FGP (2,361 non-diabetic participants). For the genetic association study we extended the study sample with 2,628 participants with type 2 diabetes. Risk allele counting was used to calculate a four-gene risk allele score for each individual.
Variants of the GCK, G6PC2 and MTNR1B genes but not GCKR were associated with FPG (all, p ≤ 0.001; GCKR, p = 0.23). Combining these four genes in a risk allele score resulted in an increase of 0.05 mmol/l (0.04–0.07) per additional risk allele (p = 2 × 10−13). Furthermore, participants with less than three or more than five risk alleles showed significantly different type 2 diabetes susceptibility compared with the most common group with four risk alleles (OR 0.77 [0.65–0.93], p = 0.005 and OR 2.05 [1.50–2.80], p = 4 × 10−6 respectively). The age at diagnosis was also significantly associated with the number of risk alleles (p = 0.009).
A combined risk allele score for single-nucleotide polymorphisms in four known FPG loci is significantly associated with FPG and HbA1c in a Dutch population-based sample of non-diabetic participants. Carriers of low or high numbers of risk alleles show significantly different risks for type 2 diabetes compared with the reference group.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1413-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
PMCID: PMC2723681  PMID: 19533084
Fasting plasma glucose; Genetics; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes  2011;60(12):3110-3120.
The induction of hepatic glucose 6-phosphatase (G6pc) by glucose presents a paradox of glucose-induced glucose intolerance. We tested whether glucose regulation of liver gene expression is geared toward intracellular homeostasis.
The effect of glucose-induced accumulation of phosphorylated intermediates on expression of glucokinase (Gck) and its regulator Gckr was determined in hepatocytes. Cell ATP and uric acid production were measured as indices of cell phosphate homeostasis.
Accumulation of phosphorylated intermediates in hepatocytes incubated at elevated glucose induced rapid and inverse changes in Gck (repression) and Gckr (induction) mRNA concomitantly with induction of G6pc, but had slower effects on the Gckr-to-Gck protein ratio. Dynamic metabolic labeling in mice and liver proteome analysis confirmed that Gckr and Gck are low-turnover proteins. Involvement of Max-like protein X in glucose-mediated Gck-repression was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis. Elevation of the Gck-to-Gckr ratio in hepatocytes was associated with glucose-dependent ATP depletion and elevated urate production confirming compromised phosphate homeostasis.
The lowering by glucose of the Gck-to-Gckr ratio provides a potential explanation for the impaired hepatic glucose uptake in diabetes. Elevated uric acid production at an elevated Gck-to-Gckr ratio supports a role for glucose regulation of gene expression in hepatic phosphate homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3219956  PMID: 22013014
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70045.
The glucokinase regulatory protein encoded by GCKR plays an important role in glucose metabolism and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1260326 (P446L) in the gene has been associated with several age-related biomarkers, including triglycerides, glucose, insulin and apolipoproteins. However, associations between SNPs in the gene and other ageing phenotypes such as cognitive and physical capability have not been reported.
As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) collaborative research programme, men and women from five UK cohorts aged between 44 and 90+ years were genotyped for rs1260326. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study genotypic associations between the SNP and several age-related phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI), blood lipid levels, lung function, and cognitive and physical capability.
We confirm the associations between the minor allele of the SNP and higher triglycerides and lower glucose levels. We also observed a triglyceride-independent association between the minor allele and lower BMI (pooled beta on z-score = −0.04, p-value = 0.0001, n = 16,251). Furthermore, there was some evidence for gene-environment interactions, including physical activity attenuating the effects on triglycerides. However, no associations were observed with measures of cognitive and physical capability.
Findings from middle-aged to older adults confirm associations between rs1260326 GCKR and triglycerides and glucose, suggest possible gene-environment interactions, but do not provide evidence that its relevance extends to cognitive and physical capability.
PMCID: PMC3720952  PMID: 23894584
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;55(3):781-789.
Recently the SNP identified as rs1260326, in the glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) was associated with hypertriglyceridemia in adults. Since accumulation of triglycerides in hepatocytes represents the hallmark of the steatosis, we aimed to investigate whether this variant might be associated with fatty liver (hepatic fat content, HFF%). Moreover, since recently rs738409 in the PNPLA3 and rs2854116 in the APOC3 were associated with fatty liver recently, we explored how the GCKR SNP and these two variants jointly influence hepatosteatosis.
Methods and Results
We studied 455 obese children and adolescents (181 Caucasians, 139 African Americans and 135 Hispanics). All underwent an OGTT and fasting lipoprotein subclasses measurement by proton NMR. A subset of 142 children underwent a fast gradient MRI to measure the HFF%.
The rs1260326 was associated with elevated triglycerides (Caucasians p=0.00014; African Americans p=0.00417) large VLDL (Caucasians p=0.001; African Americans p=0.03) and with fatty liver (Caucasians p= 0.034; African Americans p= 0.00002; and Hispanics p= 0.016). The PNPLA3, but not the APOC3 rs2854116 SNP, was associated with fatty liver but not with triglycerides levels. There was a joint effect between the PNPLA3 and GCKR SNPs, explaining 32% of HFF% variance Caucasians (p=0.00161), 39.0% in African Americans (p=0.00000496), and 15% in Hispanics (p=0.00342).
The rs1260326 in GCKR is associated with hepatic fat accumulation along with large VLDL, and triglycerides levels. GCKR and PNPLA3 act together to convey susceptibility to fatty liver in obese youths.
PMCID: PMC3288435  PMID: 22105854
GCKR; PNPLA3; SNPs; obesity; youths
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87523.
Background and Aims
Variant in glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR), associated with lipid and glucose traits, has been suggested to affect fatty liver infiltration. We aimed to assess whether GCKR rs780094 C→T SNP influences the expression of steatosis, lobular inflammation and fibrosis in NAFLD patients, after correction for PNPLA3 genotype.
In 366 consecutive NAFLD patients (197 from Sicily, and 169 from center/northern Italy), we assessed anthropometric, biochemical and metabolic features; liver biopsy was scored according to Kleiner. PNPLA3 rs738409 C>G and GCKR rs780094 C>T single nucleotide polymorphisms were also assessed.
At multivariate logistic regression analysis in the entire NAFLD cohort, the presence of significant liver fibrosis (>F1) was independently linked to high HOMA (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.01–1.23, p = 0.02), NAFLD activity score ≥5 (OR 4.09, 95% CI 2.45–6.81, p<0.001), and GCKR C>T SNP (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.43–2.98, p<0.001). Similar results were observed considering separately the two different NAFLD cohorts. GCKR C>T SNP was also associated with higher serum triglycerides (ANOVA, p = 0.02) in the entire cohort.
In patients with NAFLD, GCKR rs780094 C>T is associated with the severity of liver fibrosis and with higher serum triglyceride levels.
PMCID: PMC3911959  PMID: 24498332
Nature genetics  2010;42(8):684-687.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have replicably identified multiple loci associated with population-based plasma lipid concentrations1-5. Common genetic variants at these loci together explain <10% of the total variation of each lipid trait4,5. Rare variants of individually large effect may contribute additionally to the “missing heritability” of lipid traits6,7, however it remains to be shown to what extent rare variants will affect lipid phenotypes. Here, we demonstrate a significant accumulation of rare variants in GWAS-identified genes in patients with an extreme phenotype of abnormal plasma triglyceride (TG) metabolism. A GWAS of hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) patients revealed that common variants in APOA5, GCKR, LPL and APOB genes were associated with the HTG phenotype at genome-wide significance. We subsequently resequenced protein coding regions of these genes and found a significant burden of 154 rare missense or nonsense variants in 438 HTG patients, in contrast to 53 variants in 327 controls (P=6.2X10-8); this corresponds to a carrier frequency of 28.1% of HTG patients and 15.3% of controls (P=2.6X10-5). Many rare variants were predicted in silico to have compromised function; additionally some had previously demonstrated dysfunctionality in vitro. Rare variants in these 4 genes explained 1.1% of total variation in HTG diagnoses. Our study demonstrates a marked mutation skew that likely contributes to disease pathophysiology in patients with HTG.
PMCID: PMC3017369  PMID: 20657596
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89335.
Recent genetic and clinical evidence has implicated glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP) in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and related traits. The primary role of GKRP is to bind and inhibit hepatic glucokinase (GCK), a critically important protein in human health and disease that exerts a significant degree of control over glucose metabolism. As activation of GCK has been associated with improved glucose tolerance, perturbation of the GCK-GKRP interaction represents a potential therapeutic target for pharmacological modulation. Recent structural and kinetic advances are beginning to provide insight into the interaction of these two proteins. However, tools to comprehensively assess the GCK-GKRP interaction, particularly in the context of small molecules, would be a valuable resource. We therefore developed three robust and miniaturized assays for assessing the interaction between recombinant human GCK and GKRP: an HTRF assay, a diaphorase-coupled assay, and a luciferase-coupled assay. The assays are complementary, featuring distinct mechanisms of detection (luminescence, fluorescence, FRET). Two assays rely on GCK enzyme activity modulation by GKRP while the FRET-based assay measures the GCK-GKRP protein-protein interaction independent of GCK enzymatic substrates and activity. All three assays are scalable to low volumes in 1536-well plate format, with robust Z’ factors (>0.7). Finally, as GKRP sequesters GCK in the hepatocyte nucleus at low glucose concentrations, we explored cellular models of GCK localization and translocation. Previous findings from freshly isolated rat hepatocytes were confirmed in cryopreserved rat hepatocytes, and we further extended this study to cryopreserved human hepatocytes. Consistent with previous reports, there were several key differences between the rat and human systems, with our results suggesting that human hepatocytes can be used to interrogate GCK translocation in response to small molecules. The assay panel developed here should help direct future investigation of the GCK-GKRP interaction in these or other physiologically relevant human systems.
PMCID: PMC3929664  PMID: 24586696
Diabetes Care  2011;34(5):1205-1210.
In genome-wide association studies, performed mostly in nondiabetic individuals, genetic variability of glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) affects type 2 diabetes-related phenotypes, kidney function, and risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). We tested whether GCKR variability affects type 2 diabetes or kidney-related phenotypes in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.
In 509 GAD-negative patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, we 1) genotyped six single nucleotide polymorphisms in GCKR genomic region: rs6717980, rs1049817, rs6547626, rs780094, rs2384628, and rs8731; 2) assessed clinical phenotypes, insulin sensitivity by the euglycemic insulin clamp, and β-cell function by state-of-the-art modeling of glucose/C-peptide curves during an oral glucose tolerance test; and 3) estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease formula.
The major alleles of rs6717980 and rs2384628 were associated with reduced β-cell function (P < 0.05), with mutual additive effects of each variant (P < 0.01). The minor alleles of rs1049817 and rs6547626 and the major allele of rs780094 were associated with reduced eGFR according to a recessive model (P < 0.03), but with no mutual additive effects of the variants. Additional associations were found between rs780094 and 2-h plasma glucose (P < 0.05) and rs8731 and insulin sensitivity (P < 0.05) and triglycerides (P < 0.05).
Our findings are compatible with the idea that GCKR variability may play a pathogenetic role in both type 2 diabetes and CKD. Genotyping GCKR in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes might help in identifying patients at high risk for metabolic derangements or CKD.
PMCID: PMC3114499  PMID: 21411509
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2014;1843(6):1123-1134.
Glucokinase activity is a major determinant of hepatic glucose metabolism and blood glucose homeostasis. Liver glucokinase activity is regulated acutely by adaptive translocation between the nucleus and the cytoplasm through binding and dissociation from its regulatory protein (GKRP) in the nucleus. Whilst the effect of glucose on this mechanism is well established, the role of hormones in regulating glucokinase location and its interaction with binding proteins remains unsettled. Here we show that treatment of rat hepatocytes with 25 mM glucose caused decreased binding of glucokinase to GKRP, translocation from the nucleus and increased binding to 6-phosphofructo 2-kinase/fructose 2,6 bisphosphatase-2 (PFK2/FBPase2) in the cytoplasm. Glucagon caused dissociation of glucokinase from PFK2/FBPase2, concomitant with phosphorylation of PFK2/FBPase2 on Ser-32, uptake of glucokinase into the nucleus and increased interaction with GKRP. Two novel glucagon receptor antagonists attenuated the action of glucagon. This establishes an unequivocal role for hormonal control of glucokinase translocation. Given that glucagon excess contributes to the pathogenesis of diabetes, glucagon may play a role in the defect in glucokinase translocation and activity evident in animal models and human diabetes.
•Hepatic glucokinase activity is acutely regulated by its cellular location.•High glucose translocates glucokinase from nuclear GKRP to cytoplasmic PFK2/FBPase2.•Here we show that glucagon counteracts glucokinase translocation by elevated glucose.•This effect of glucagon is reversed by novel glucagon receptor antagonists.•This study supports a role for glucagon in regulating glucokinase translocation.
PMCID: PMC4024195  PMID: 24566088
BiFC, bimolecular fluorescence complementation; cAMP, cyclic adenosine monophosphate; EPAC, exchange protein directly activated by cAMP; F26P2, fructose 2,6-bisphosphate; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GK, glucokinase; GKRP, glucokinase regulatory protein; G6pc, glucose 6-phosphatase; mRFP, red fluorescent protein; N/C ratio, nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio; PepO, desHis1Pro4Glu9-glucagon; PepR, desHis1Pro4Glu9Lys12(γ-glutamyl PAL)glucagon-amide; Phos-a, glycogen phosphorylase; PFK2/FBPase2, 6-phosphofructo 2-kinase/fructose 2,6-bisphosphatase-2; PKA, protein kinase A; PLA, proximity ligation assay; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein; Glucokinase; Glucokinase regulatory protein; 6-phosphofructo 2-kinase/fructose 2,6 bisphosphatase-2; Hepatocyte; Glucagon
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11690.
The minor T-allele of rs780094 in the glucokinase regulator gene (GCKR) associates with a number of metabolic traits including higher triglyceride levels and improved glycemic regulation in study populations of mostly European ancestry. Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, we sought to replicate these findings, examine them in a large population-based sample of African American study participants, and to investigate independent associations with other metabolic traits in order to determine if variation in GKCR contributes to their observed clustering. In addition, we examined the association of rs780094 with incident diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke over up mean follow-up times of 8, 15, and 15 years, respectively.
Research Design and Methods
Race-stratified analyses were conducted among 10,929 white and 3,960 black participants aged 45–64 at baseline assuming an additive genetic model and using linear and logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models.
Previous findings replicated among white participants in multivariable adjusted models: the T-allele of rs780094 was associated with lower fasting glucose (p = 10−7) and insulin levels (p = 10−6), lower insulin resistance (HOMA-IR, p = 10−9), less prevalent diabetes (p = 10−6), and higher CRP (p = 10−8), 2-h postprandial glucose (OGTT, p = 10−6), and triglyceride levels (p = 10−31). Moreover, the T-allele was independently associated with higher HDL cholesterol levels (p = 0.022), metabolic syndrome prevalence (p = 0.043), and lower beta-cell function measured as HOMA-B (p = 0.011). Among black participants, the T-allele was associated only with higher triglyceride levels (p = 0.004) and lower insulin levels (p = 0.002) and HOMA-IR (p = 0.013). Prospectively, the T-allele was associated with reduced incidence of diabetes (p = 10−4) among white participants, but not with incidence of CHD or stroke.
Our findings indicate rs780094 has independent associations with multiple metabolic traits as well as incident diabetes, but not incident CHD or stroke. The magnitude of association between the SNP and most traits was of lower magnitude among African American compared to white participants.
PMCID: PMC2908550  PMID: 20661421
Diabetologia  2008;51(4):546-553.
Mutations in the GCK and HNF1A genes are the most common cause of the monogenic forms of diabetes known as ‘maturity-onset diabetes of the young’. GCK encodes the glucokinase enzyme, which acts as the pancreatic glucose sensor, and mutations result in stable, mild fasting hyperglycaemia. A progressive insulin secretory defect is seen in patients with mutations in the HNF1A and HNF4A genes encoding the transcription factors hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha and -4 alpha. A molecular genetic diagnosis often changes management, since patients with GCK mutations rarely require pharmacological treatment and HNF1A/4A mutation carriers are sensitive to sulfonylureas. These monogenic forms of diabetes are often misdiagnosed as type 1 or 2 diabetes. Best practice guidelines for genetic testing were developed to guide testing and reporting of results.
A workshop was held to discuss clinical criteria for testing and the interpretation of molecular genetic test results. The participants included 22 clinicians and scientists from 13 countries. Draft best practice guidelines were formulated and edited using an online tool (
An agreed set of clinical criteria were defined for the testing of babies, children and adults for GCK, HNF1A and HNF4A mutations. Reporting scenarios were discussed and consensus statements produced.
Best practice guidelines have been established for monogenic forms of diabetes caused by mutations in the GCK, HNF1A and HNF4A genes. The guidelines include both diagnostic and predictive genetic tests and interpretation of the results.
For members of the EMQN MODY group see the Appendix. For details of their affiliations, see the Electronic supplementary material which is available to authorised users via the online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-008-0942-y).
PMCID: PMC2270360  PMID: 18297260
Best practice; GCK; HNF1A; HNF4A; Maturity-onset diabetes of the young; MODY; Monogenic diabetes
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1015-1020.
Glucokinase (GCK) acts as a component of the “glucose sensor” in pancreatic β-cells and possibly in other tissues, including the brain. However, >99% of GCK in the body is located in the liver, where it serves as a “gatekeeper”, determining the rate of hepatic glucose phosphorylation. Mutations in GCK are a cause of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), and GCKR, the regulator of GCK in the liver, is a diabetes susceptibility locus. In addition, several GCK activators are being studied as potential regulators of blood glucose. The ability to estimate liver GCK activity in vivo for genetic and pharmacologic studies may provide important physiologic insights into the regulation of hepatic glucose metabolism.
Here we introduce a simple, linear, two-compartment kinetic model that exploits lactate and glucose kinetics observed during the frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT) to estimate liver GCK activity (KGK), glycolysis (K12), and whole body fractional lactate clearance (K01).
To test our working model of lactate, we used cross-sectional FSIGT data on 142 nondiabetic individuals chosen at random from the Finland–United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics study cohort. Parameters KGK, K12, and K01 were precisely estimated. Median model parameter estimates were consistent with previously published values.
This novel model of lactate kinetics extends the utility of the FSIGT protocol beyond whole-body glucose homeostasis by providing estimates for indices pertaining to hepatic glucose metabolism, including hepatic GCK activity and glycolysis rate.
PMCID: PMC3329822  PMID: 22456868

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