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Amino Acids. 2013 Feb;44(2):391-404. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1342-7. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Mechanism of cysteine-dependent inactivation of aspartate/glutamate/cysteine sulfinic acid α-decarboxylases.

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Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Engel Hall 204, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Animal aspartate decarboxylase (ADC), glutamate decarboxylase (GDC) and cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase (CSADC) catalyze the decarboxylation of aspartate, glutamate and cysteine sulfinic acid to β-alanine, γ-aminobutyric acid and hypotaurine, respectively. Each enzymatic product has been implicated in different physiological functions. These decarboxylases use pyridoxal 5-phosphate (PLP) as cofactor and share high sequence homology. Analysis of the activity of ADC in the presence of different amino determined that beta-alanine production from aspartate was diminished in the presence of cysteine. Comparative analysis established that cysteine also inhibited GDC and CSADC in a concentration-dependent manner. Spectral comparisons of free PLP and cysteine, together with ADC and cysteine, result in comparable spectral shifts. Such spectral shifts indicate that cysteine is able to enter the active site of the enzyme, interact with the PLP-lysine internal aldimine, form a cysteine-PLP aldimine and undergo intramolecular nucleophilic cyclization through its sulfhydryl group, leading to irreversible ADC inactivation. Cysteine is the building block for protein synthesis and a precursor of cysteine sulfinic acid that is the substrate of CSADC and therefore is present in many cells, but the presence of cysteine (at comparable concentrations to their natural substrates) apparently could severely inhibit ADC, CSADC and GDC activity. This raises an essential question as to how animal species prevent these enzymes from cysteine-mediated inactivation. Disorders of cysteine metabolism have been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases. The results of our study should promote research in terms of mechanism by which animals maintain their cysteine homeostasis and possible relationship of cysteine-mediated GDC and CSADC inhibition in neurodegenerative disease development.

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