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J Biol Chem. 1994 May 13;269(19):13854-60.

Effects of changing glutamate 487 to lysine in rat and human liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase. A model to study human (Oriental type) class 2 aldehyde dehydrogenase.

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Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907.


Many Oriental people possess a liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase where glutamate at position 487 has been replaced by a lysine, and they have very low levels of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase activity. To investigate the cause of the lack of activity of this aldehyde dehydrogenase, we mutated residue 487 of rat and human liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase to a lysine and expressed the mutant and native enzyme forms in Escherichia coli. Both rat and human recombinant aldehyde dehydrogenases showed the same molecular and kinetic properties as the enzyme isolated from liver mitochondria. The E487K mutants were found to be active but possessed altered kinetic properties when compared to the glutamate enzyme. The Km for NAD+ at pH 7.4 increased more than 150-fold, whereas kcat decreased 2-10-fold with respect to the recombinant native enzymes. Detailed steady-state kinetic analysis showed that the binding of NAD+ to the mutant enzyme was impaired, and it could be calculated that this resulted in a decreased nucleophilicity of the active site cysteine residue. The rate-limiting step for the rat E487K mutant was also different from that of the recombinant rat liver aldehyde dehydrogenase in that no pre-steady-state burst of NADH formation was found with the mutant enzyme. Both the rat native enzyme and the E487K mutant oxidized chloroacetaldehyde twice as fast as acetaldehyde, indicating that the rate-limiting step was not hydride transfer or coenzyme dissociation but depended upon nucleophilic attack. Each enzyme form showed a 2-fold activation upon the addition of Mg2+ ions. Substituting a glutamine for the glutamate did not grossly affect the properties of the enzyme. Glutamate 487 may interact directly with the positive nicotinamide ring of NAD+ for the Ki of NADH was the same in the lysine enzyme as it was in the glutamate form. Because of the altered NAD+ binding properties and kcat of the E487K variant, it is assumed that people possessing this form will not have a functional mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase.

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