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Biochemistry. 2002 Mar 26;41(12):3952-67.

New model for activation of yeast pyruvate decarboxylase by substrate consistent with the alternating sites mechanism: demonstration of the existence of two active forms of the enzyme.

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Department of Chemistry and Program in Cellular and Molecular Biodynamics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA.


Pyruvate decarboxylase from yeast (YPDC, EC exhibits a marked lag phase in the progress curves of product (acetaldehyde) formation. The currently accepted kinetic model for YPDC predicts that, only upon binding of substrate in a regulatory site, a slow activation step converts inactive enzyme into the active form. This allosteric behavior gives rise to sigmoidal steady-state kinetics. The E477Q active site variant of YPDC exhibited hyperbolic initial rate curves at low pH, not consistent with the model. Progress curves of product formation by this variant were S-shaped, consistent with the presence of three interconverting conformations with distinct steady-state rates. Surprisingly, wild-type YPDC at pH < or =5.0 also possessed S-shaped progress curves, with the conformation corresponding to the middle steady state being the most active one. Reexamination of the activation by substrate of wild-type YPDC in the pH range of 4.5-6.5 revealed two characteristic transitions at all pH values. The values of steady-state rates are functions of both pH and substrate concentration, affecting whether the progress curve appears "normal" or S-shaped with an inflection point. The substrate dependence of the apparent rate constants suggested that the first transition corresponded to substrate binding in an active site and a subsequent step responsible for conversion to an asymmetric conformation. Consequently, the second enzyme state may report on "unregulated" enzyme, since the regulatory site does not participate in its generation. This enzyme state utilizes the alternating sites mechanism, resulting in the hyperbolic substrate dependence of initial rate. The second transition corresponds to binding a substrate molecule in the regulatory site and subsequent minor conformational adjustments. The third enzyme state corresponds to the allosterically regulated conformation, previously referred to as activated enzyme. The pH dependence of the Hill coefficient suggests a random binding of pyruvate in a regulatory and an active site of wild-type YPDC. Addition of pyruvamide or acetaldehyde to YPDC results in the appearance of additional conformations of the enzyme.

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