The relationship between glucokinase (GK) gene copy number and glucose homeostasis was studied in transgenic mice with additional copies of the entire GK gene locus (Niswender, K. D., Postic, C., Jetton, T. L., Bennett, B. D., Piston, D. W., Efrat, S., and Magnuson, M. A. (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272, 22564-22569). The plasma glucose concentration was reduced by 25 +/- 3% and 37 +/- 4% in mice with one or two extra copies of the gene locus, respectively. The basis for the hypoglycemic phenotype was determined using metabolic tracer techniques in chronically cannulated, conscious mice with one extra GK gene copy. Under basal conditions (6-h fasted) transgenic mice had a lower blood glucose concentration (-12 +/- 1%) and a slightly higher glucose turnover rate (+8 +/- 3%), resulting in a significantly higher glucose clearance rate (+21 +/- 2%). Plasma insulin levels were not different, suggesting that increased glucose clearance was due to augmented hepatic, not islet, GK gene expression. Under hyperglycemic clamp conditions the transgenic mice had glucose turnover and clearance rates similar to the controls, but showed a lower plasma insulin response (-48 +/- 5%). Net hepatic glycogen synthesis was markedly elevated (+360%), whereas skeletal muscle glycogen synthesis was decreased (-40%). These results indicate that increased GK gene dosage leads to increased hepatic glucose metabolism and, consequently, a lower plasma glucose concentration. Increased insulin secretion was not observed, even though the transgene is expressed in islets, because hypoglycemia causes a down-regulation in islet GK content (Niswender, K. D., Postic, C., Jetton, T. L., Bennett, B. D., Piston, D. W., Efrat, S., and Magnuson, M. A. (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272, in press).