IL-7, Hexokinase II, Glucose


The cytokine, interleukin-7 (IL-7), has essential growth activities that maintain the homeostatic balance of the immune system. Little is known of the mechanism by which IL-7 signaling regulates metabolic activity in support of its vital function in lymphocytes. We observed that IL-7 deprivation caused a rapid decline in ATP levels that were attributable to loss of intracellular glucose retention. To identify the transducer of the IL-7 metabolic signal, we examined the expression of three important regulators of glucose metabolism, the glucose transporter, GLUT-1, and two glycolytic enzymes, Hexokinase II (HXKII) and phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK1), using an IL-7-dependent T-cell line and primary lymphocytes. We found that in lymphocytes deprived of IL-7 loss of glucose uptake correlated with decreased expression of HXKII. Re-addition of IL-7 to cytokine deprived lymphocytes restored the transcription of the HXKII gene within 2 hours, but not that of GLUT-1 or PFK1. IL-7-mediated increases in HXKII, but not GLUT-1 or PFK-1, were also observed at the protein level. Inhibition of HXKII with 3-Bromopyruvate or specific siRNA decreased glucose utilization, as well as ATP levels, in the presence of IL-7, while over-expression of HXKII, but not GLUT-1, restored glucose retention and increased ATP levels in the absence of IL-7. This IL-7 mediated HXKII gene expression was abrogated with inhibition of JNK pathway. IL-7 also increased activation of AP-1 complex and DNA binding of JunD, a transcriptional complex thought to be negative regulator of proliferation. We found that over expression of HXKII caused cell cycle arrest and cell death, indicating that a potent IL-7 signal could produce negative growth signals. We conclude that IL-7 controls glucose utilization by regulating the gene expression of HXKII through activation of JNK-JunD pathway, suggesting a mechanism by which IL-7 supports bioenergetics that control cell fate decisions in lymphocytes.


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Graduation Date



Khaled, Annette


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences








Release Date

July 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)