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Annu Rev Biochem. 2002;71:847-85. Epub 2001 Nov 9.

Catalytic proficiency: the unusual case of OMP decarboxylase.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706-1544, USA.


Enzymes are called upon to differ greatly in the difficulty of the tasks that they perform. The catalytic proficiency of an enzyme can be evaluated by comparing the second-order rate constant (kcat/Km) with the rate of the spontaneous reaction in neutral solution in the absence of a catalyst. The proficiencies of enzymes, measured in this way, are matched by their affinity constants for the altered substrate in the transition state. These values vary from approximately approximately 10(9) M(-1) for carbonic anhydrase to approximately 10(23) M(-1) for yeast orotidine 5'-phosphate decarboxylase (ODCase). ODCase turns its substrate over with a half-time of 18 ms, in a reaction that proceeds in its absence with a half-time of 78 million years in neutral solution. ODCase differs from other decarboxylases in that its catalytic activity does not depend on the presence of metals or other cofactors, or on the formation of a covalent bond to the substrate. Several mechanisms of transition state stabilization are considered in terms of ODCase crystal structures observed in the presence and absence of bound analogs of the substrate, transition state, and product. Very large connectivity effects are indicated by the results of experiments testing how transition state stabilization is affected by the truncation of binding determinants of the substrate and the active site.

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