Roles of Active Site and Novel K+ Ion-binding Site Residues in Human Mitochondrial Branched-chain α-Ketoacid Decarboxylase/Dehydrogenase

R. Max Wynn, Roxanne Ho, Jacinta L. Chuang, David T. Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The human mitochondrial branched-chain α-ketoacid decarboxylase/dehydrogenase (BCKD) is a heterotetrameric (α 2β2) thiamine diphosphate (TDP)-dependent enzyme. The recently solved human BCKD structure at 2.7 Å showed that the two TDP-binding pockets are located at the interfaces between α and β' subunits and between α' and β subunits. In the present study, we show that the E76A-β' mutation results in complete inactivation of BCKD. The result supports the catalytic role of the invariant Glu-76-β' residue in increasing basicity of the N-4′ amino group during the proton abstraction from the C-2 atom on the thiazolium ring. A substitution of His-146-β' with Ala also renders the enzyme completely inactive. The data are consistent with binding of the α-ketoacid substrate by this residue based on the Pseudomonas BCKD structure. Alterations in Asn-222-α, Tyr-224-α, or Glu-193-α, which coordinates to the Mg2+ ion, result in an inactive enzyme (E193A-α) or a mutant BCKD with markedly higher Km for TDP and a reduced level of the bound cofactor (Y224A-α and N222S-α). Arg-114-α, Arg-220-α, and His-291-α interact with TDP by directly binding to phosphate oxygens of the cofactor. We show that natural mutations of these residues in maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) patients (R114W-α and R220W-α) or site-directed mutagenesis (H291A-α) also result in an inactive or partially active enzyme, respectively. Another MSUD mutation (T166M-α), which affects one of the residues that coordinate to the K+ ion on the α subunit, also causes inactivation of the enzyme and an attenuated ability to bind TDP. In addition, fluorescence measurements establish that Trp-136-β in human BCKD is the residue quenched by TDP binding. Thus, our results define the functional roles of key amino acid residues in human BCKD and provide a structural basis for MSUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4168-4174
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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