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Hepatic glucokinase (GK) moves between the nucleus and cytoplasm in response to metabolic alterations. Here, using heterologous cell systems, we have found that at least two different mechanisms are involved in the intracellular movement of GK. In the absence of the GK regulatory protein (GKRP) GK resides only in the cytoplasm. However, in the presence of GKRP, GK moves to the nucleus and resides there in association with this protein until changes in the metabolic milieu prompt its release. GK does not contain a nuclear localization signal sequence and does not enter the nucleus in a GKRP-independent manner because cells treated with leptomycin B, a specific inhibitor of leucine-rich NES-dependent nuclear export, do not accumulate GK in the nucleus. Instead, entry of GK into the nucleus appears to occur via a piggy-back mechanism that involves binding to GKRP. Nuclear export of GK, which occurs after its release from GKRP, is due to a leucine-rich nuclear export signal within the protein ((300)ELVRLVLLKLV(310)). Thus, GKRP appears to function as both a nuclear chaperone and metabolic sensor and is a critical component of a hepatic GK translocation cycle for regulating the activity of this enzyme in response to metabolic alterations.