Mutations in the glucokinase (GK) gene cause type-2 maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 2 (MODY-2) and GK-linked hyperinsulinaemia (GK-HI). Recombinant adenoviruses expressing the human wild-type islet GK or one of four mutant forms of GK, (the MODY-2 mutants E70K, E300K and V203A and the GK-HI mutant V455M) were transduced into glucose-responsive insulin-secreting beta-HC9 cells and tested functionally in order to initiate the first analysis in vivo of recombinant wild-type and mutant human islet GK. Kinetic analysis of wild-type human GK showed that the glucose S(0. 5) and Hill coefficient were similar to previously published data in vitro (S(0.5) is the glucose level at the half-maximal rate). E70K had half the glucose affinity of wild-type, but similar enzyme activity. V203A demonstrated decreased catalytic activity and an 8-fold increase in glucose S(0.5) when compared with wild-type human islet GK. E300K had a glucose S(0.5) similar to wild-type but a 10-fold reduction in enzyme activity. E300K mRNA levels were comparable with wild-type GK mRNA levels, but Western-blot analyses demonstrated markedly reduced levels of immunologically detectable protein, consistent with an instability mutation. V455M was just as active as wild-type GK, but with a markedly reduced S(0.5). The effects of the different GK mutants on glucose-stimulated insulin release support the kinetic and expression data. These experiments show the utility of a combined genetic, biochemical and cell-biological approach to the quantification of functional and structural changes of human GK that result from MODY-2 and GK-HI mutations.