Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 133, Issue 1, pp 193–220 | Cite as

Creatine kinase in non-muscle tissues and cells

  • Theo Wallimann
  • Wolfram Hemmer
Creatine Kinases and Metabolic Integration


Over the past years, a concept for creatine kinase function, the ‘PCr-circuit’ model, has evolved. Based on this concept, multiple functions for the CK/PCr-system have been proposed, such as an energy buffering function, regulatory functions, as well as an energy transport function, mostly based on studies with muscle. While the temporal energy buffering and metabolic regulatory roles of CK are widely accepted, the spatial buffering or energy transport function, that is, the shuttling of PCr and Cr between sites of energy utilization and energy demand, is still being debated. There is, however, much circumstantial evidence, that supports the latter role of CK including the distinct, isoenzyme-specific subcellular localization of CK isoenzymes, the isolation and characterization of functionally coupledin vitro microcompartments of CK with a variety of cellular ATPases, and the observed functional coupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation with mitochondrial CK. New insight concerning the functions of the CK/PCr-system has been gained from recent M-CK null-mutant transgenic mice and by the investigation of CK localization and function in certain highly specialized non-muscle tissues and cells, such as electrocytes, retina photoreceptor cells, brain cells, kidney, salt glands, myometrium, placenta, pancreas, thymus, thyroid, intestinal brush-border epithelial cells, endothelial cells, cartilage and bone cells, macrophages, blood platelets, tumor and cancer cells. Studies with electric organ, includingin vivo31P-NMR, clearly reveal the buffer function of the CK/PCr-system in electrocytes and additionally corroborate a direct functional coupling of membrane-bound CK to the Na+/K+-ATPase. On the other hand, experiments with live sperm and recentin vivo31P-NMR measurements on brain provide convincing evidence for the transport function of the CK/PCr-system. We report on new findings concerning the isoenzyme-specific cellular localization and subcellular compartmentation of CK isoenzymes in photoreceptor cells, in glial and neuronal cells of the cerebellum and in spermatozoa. Finally, the regulation of CK expression by hormones is discussed, and new developments concerning a connection of CK with malignancy and cancer are illuminated. Most interesting in this respect is the observed upregulation of CK expression by adenoviral oncogenes.

Key words

creatine kinase functional coupling with cellular ATPases spermatozoa electrocytes retina cerebellum 



Bergmann glial cell


granule cell layer


molecular layer


Purkinje neuron










photoreceptor rod outer segment


inner segment






pyruvate kinase


3-guanidino-propionic acid


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo Wallimann
    • 1
  • Wolfram Hemmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyETH-HönggerbergZürichSwitzerland

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