Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex
(PDC) is a complex of three enzymes
that transform pyruvate
by a process called pyruvate decarboxylation
. Acetyl-CoA may then be used in the citric acid cycle
to carry out cellular respiration
, and this complex links the glycolysis metabolic pathway
to the citric acid cycle
. Pyruvate decarboxylation is also known as the "pyruvate dehydrogenase reaction" because it also involves the oxidation of pyruvate.
This multi-enzyme complex is related structurally and functionally to the oxoglutarate dehydrogenase and branched-chain oxo-acid dehydrogenase multi-enzyme complexes.
The reaction catalysed by pyruvate dehydrogenase complex is:
Structure & function in eukaryotes
Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex is located in the mitochondrial matrix
. It consists of a total of 60 subunits
, organized into three functional proteins:
Pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1)
and thiamine pyrophosphate
(TPP) are bound by pyruvate dehydrogenase
subunits. The thiazolium
ring of TPP is in a zwitterionic
form, and the anionic
C2 carbon performs a nucleophilic attack on the C2 (ketone) carbonyl of pyruvate. The resulting hemithioacetal undergoes
to produce an acyl anion equivalent (see cyanohydrin
or aldehyde-dithiane umpolung
chemistry, as well as benzoin condensation
). This anion attacks S1 of an oxidized lipoate species that is attached to a lysine
residue. In a ring-opening SN
2-like mechanism, S2 is displaced as a sulfide or sulfhydryl moiety. Subsequent collapse of the tetrahedral hemithioacetal ejects thiazole, releasing the TPP cofactor and generating a thioacetate on S1 of lipoate. The E1-catalyzed process is the rate-limiting one of the whole pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.
Dihydrolipoyl transacetylase (E2)
At this point, the lipoate-thioester functionality is translocated into the dihydrolipoyl transacetylase
(E2) active site, where a transacylation reaction transfers the acetyl from the "swinging arm" of lipoyl to the thiol of coenzyme A
. This produces acetyl-CoA
, which is released from the enzyme complex and subsequently enters the citric acid cycle
Dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase (E3)
, still bound to a lysine residue of the complex, then migrates to the dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase
(E3) active site where it undergoes a flavin
-mediated oxidation, identical in chemistry to disulfide isomerase
. First, FAD
oxidizes dihydrolipoate back to its lipoate resting state, producing FADH2
. Then, a NAD+ cofactor
back to its FAD resting state, producing NADH.
Pyruvate dehydrogenase is inhibited when one or more of the three following ratios are increased: ATP
In eukaryotes PDC is tightly regulated by its own specific pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) and pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase (PDP), deactivating and activating it respectively.
- PDK phosphorylates three specific serine residues on E1 with different affinities. Phosphorylation of any one of them renders E1 (and in consequence the entire complex) inactive.
- Dephosphorylation of E1 by PDP reinstates complex activity.
Products of the reaction act as allosteric inhibitors of the PDC, they also activate PDK. Substrates in turn inhibit the PDC.
During starvation, PDK increases in amount in most tissues, including skeletal muscle, via increased gene transcription. Under the same conditions, the amount of PDP decreases. The resulting inhibition of PDC prevents muscle and other tissues from catabolizing glucose and gluconeogenesis precursors. Metabolism shifts toward fat utilization, while muscle protein breakdown to supply gluconeogenesis precursors is minimized, and available glucose is spared for use by the brain.
Calcium ion has a role in regulation of PDC in muscle tissue, because it activates PDP, stimulating glycolysis on its release into the cytosol - during muscle contraction.
Localization of pyruvate decarboxylation
cells the pyruvate decarboxylation occurs inside the mitochondria
, after transport of the substrate, pyruvate, from the cytosol
. The transport of pyruvate into the mitochondria is via a transport protein
and is active
, consuming energy
. Passive diffusion of pyruvate into the mitochondria is impossible because it is a polar molecule
On entry to the mitochondria the pyruvate decarboxylation occurs, producing acetyl CoA. This irreversible reaction traps the acetyl CoA within the mitochondria (the acetyl-CoA can only be transported out of the mitochondrial matrix under conditions of high oxaloacetate via the citrate shuttle, a TCA intermediate that is normally sparse). The carbon dioxide produced by this reaction is nonpolar and small, and can diffuse out of the mitochondria and out of the cell.
In prokaryotes, which have no mitochondria, this reaction is either carried out in the cytosol, or not at all.
Structural differerences between species
PDC is a large complex composed of multiple copies of 3 or 4 subunits depending on species.
bacteria, e.g. Escherichia coli
, PDC consists of a central octahedral core made up from 24 molecules of dihydrolipoyl transacetylase
Up to 24 copies of pyruvate decarboxylase (E1) and 12 molecules of dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase (E3) bind to the outside of the E2 core.
Gram-positive bacteria and eukaryotes
In contrast, in Gram-positive
bacteria (e.g. Bacillus stearothermophilus
) and eukaryotes the central PDC core contains 60 E2 molecules arranged into an icosahedron.
Eukaryotes also contain 12 copies of an additional core protein, E3 binding protein (E3BP). The exact location of E3BP is not completely clear. Cryo-electron microscopy has established that E3BP binds to each of the icosahedral faces in yeast. However, it has been suggested that it replaces an equivalent number of E2 molecules in the bovine PDC core.
Up to 60 E1 or E3 molecules can associate with the E2 core from Gram-positive bacteria - binding is mutually exclusive. In eukaryotes E2 is specifically bound by E2, while E3 associates with E3BP. It is thought that up to 30 E1 and 6 E3 enzymes are present, although the exact number of molecules can vary in vivo and often reflects the metabolic requirements of the tissue in question.
- http://www.dentistry.leeds.ac.uk/biochem/MBWeb/mb1/part2/krebs.htm#animat1 - animation of the general mechanism of the PDC (link on upper right) at University of Leeds