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J Mol Model. 2012 Jun;18(6):2567-76. doi: 10.1007/s00894-011-1281-3. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Comparative homology modeling of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isozymes from Xenopus tropicalis reveals structural basis for their subfunctionalization.

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  • 1Research Center for Environmental Genomics and Graduate School of Science, Kobe University, Nada, Kobe, Japan.


Structural-functional divergence is responsible for the preservation of highly homologous genes. Protein functions affected by mutagenesis in divergent sequences require investigation on an individual basis. In the present study, comparative homology modeling and predictive bioinformatics analysis were used to reveal for the first time the subfunctionalization of two pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) isozymes in the western clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis. Three-dimensional structures of the two proteins were built by homology modeling based on the crystal structures of mammalian PDKs. A detailed comparison of them revealed important structural differences that modify the accessibility of the nucleotide binding site in the two isozymes. Based on the generated models and bioinformatics data analysis, the differences between the two proteins in terms of kinetic parameters, metabolic regulation, and tissue distribution are predicted. The results obtained are consistent with the idea that one of the xtPDKs is the major isozyme responsible for metabolic control of PDC activity in X. tropicalis, whereas the other one has more specialized functions. Hence, this study provides a rationale for the existence of two closely related PDK isozymes in X. tropicalis, thereby enhancing our understanding of the functional evolution of PDK family genes.

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