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Eur J Biochem. 1999 May;262(1):191-201.

Autoregulation of yeast pyruvate decarboxylase gene expression requires the enzyme but not its catalytic activity.

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  • 1Laboratorium voor Moleculaire Celbiologie, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Flanders, Belgium.


In the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, pyruvate decarboxylase (Pdc) is encoded by the two isogenes PDC1 and PDC5. Deletion of the more strongly expressed PDC1 gene stimulates the promoter activity of both PDC1 and PDC5, a phenomenon called Pdc autoregulation. Hence, pdc1Delta strains have high Pdc specific activity and can grow on glucose medium. In this work we have characterized the mutant alleles pdc1-8 and pdc1-14, which cause strongly diminished Pdc activity and an inability to grow on glucose. Both mutant alleles are expressed as detectable proteins, each of which differs from the wild-type by a single amino acid. The cloned pdc1-8 and pdc1-14 alleles, as well as the in-vitro-generated pdc1-51 (Glu51Ala) allele, repressed expression of PDC5 and diminished Pdc specific activity. Thus, the repressive effect of Pdc1p on PDC5 expression seems to be independent of its catalytic activity. A pdc1-8 mutant was used to isolate spontaneous suppressor mutations, which allowed expression of PDC5. All three mutants characterized had additional mutations within the pdc1-8 allele. Two of these mutations resulted in a premature translational stop conferring phenotypes virtually indistinguishable from those of a pdc1Delta mutation. The third mutation, pdc1-803, led to a deletion of two amino acids adjacent to the pdc1-8 mutation. The alleles pdc1-8 and pdc1-803 were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. In the crude extract, both proteins had 10% residual activity, which was lost during purification, probably due to dissociation of the cofactor thiamin diphosphate (ThDP). The defect in pdc1-8 (Asp291Asn) and the two amino acids deleted in pdc1-803 (Ser296 and Phe297) are located within a flexible loop in the beta domain. This domain appears to determine the relative orientation of the alpha and gamma domains, which bind ThDP. Alterations in this loop may also affect the conformational change upon substrate binding. The mutation in pdc1-14 (Ser455Phe) is located within the ThDP fold and is likely to affect binding and/or orientation of the cofactor in the protein. We suggest that autoregulation is triggered by a certain conformation of Pdc1p and that the mutations in pdc1-8 and pdc1-14 may lock Pdc1p in vivo in a conformational state which leads to repression of PDC5.

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