Modulation of branched-chain α-keto acid decarboxylase activity in rat liver mitochondria by hypophysectomy

Stephen Gene Sullivan, Joseph Dancis, Rody P. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A reliable and reproducible assay was developed for measuring mitochondrial α-keto acid decarboxylase activity using ferricyanide as the electron acceptor. This method permitted the functional isolation and investigation of the decarboxylase step of the branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenases in rat liver mitochondria. Pyruvate and α-ketoglutarate decarboxylases are known to be separate and distinct enzymes from the branched-chain α-keto acid decarboxylases and were studied as controls. The relative specific activities of rat liver mitochondrial decarboxylases as measured by the ferricyanide assay showed that pyruvate and α-ketoglutarate were decarboxylated twice as rapidly as α-ketoisovalerate and four to ten times as fast as α-keto-β-methylvalerate and α-ketoisocaproate. The three branched-chain α-keto acids individually inhibit pyruvate and α-ketoglutarate decarboxylases. Inactivation of mitochondrial branched-chain α-keto acid decarboxylase activity by freezing and thawing and by prolonged storage resulted in a proportional decrease in decarboxylase activity toward each of the three branched-chain α-keto acids. However, hypophysectomy was found to increase decarboxylase activity with α-keto-β-methylvalerate to four times normal and with α-ketoisovalerate to three times normal, but the activity with α-ketoisocaproate was not changed. Hypophysectomy did not alter mitochondrial decarboxylase activity with pyruvate, α-ketoglutarate, or α-ketovalerate. The finding that hypophysectomy differentially alters the mitochondrial decarboxylase activity with the three branched-chain α-keto acids suggests either that there is more than one substrate-specific enzyme with branched-chain α-keto acid decarboxylase activity or that there is a modification of one enzyme such that the catalytic activity is selectively altered toward the three substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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