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J Neurochem. 1988 Mar;50(3):673-80.

Pyruvate dehydrogenase activity in osmotically shocked rat brain mitochondria: stimulation by oxaloacetate.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, UCSD Medical Center, 92103.


Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex activity (PDHC) measured by CO2 release isotopic assay has generally been much lower than activity measured by the spectrophotometric arylamine acetyltransferase assay (ArAT). Decarboxylation of [1-14C]pyruvate was measured in osmotically shocked rat brain cortical mitochondria. Activity is dependent on the concentration of the substrate pyruvate. Activity of 74.6 units +/- 12.3 SD (n = 22) was observed at 4 mM pyruvate (1 unit = 1 nmol pyruvate decarboxylated/min/mg protein). Activity was dependent on added NAD, CoA, and thiamine pyrophosphate, implying increased mitochondrial permeability after osmotic shock. Freeze/thaw with sonication of the mitochondrial preparation reduced PDHC activity to 11.5 units +/- 3.0 SD (n = 4). Oxaloacetate produced a marked stimulation of activity. The optimal assay contained 3 mM oxaloacetate, and without oxaloacetate activity fell to 15.4 units +/- 9.9 SD (n = 8). These studies highlight the importance of optimal substrate concentrations in the CO2 release isotopic PDHC method. Higher PDHC activity is found with intact mitochondria and thus activity values should be interpreted in the light of the presence or absence of intact mitochondria in individual preparations.

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