Applied and environmental microbiology

Substrate specificity of thiamine pyrophosphate-dependent 2-oxo-acid decarboxylases in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

PMID 22904058


Fusel alcohols are precursors and contributors to flavor and aroma compounds in fermented beverages, and some are under investigation as biofuels. The decarboxylation of 2-oxo acids is a key step in the Ehrlich pathway for fusel alcohol production. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, five genes share sequence similarity with genes encoding thiamine pyrophosphate-dependent 2-oxo-acid decarboxylases (2ODCs). PDC1, PDC5, and PDC6 encode differentially regulated pyruvate decarboxylase isoenzymes; ARO10 encodes a 2-oxo-acid decarboxylase with broad substrate specificity, and THI3 has not yet been shown to encode an active decarboxylase. Despite the importance of fusel alcohol production in S. cerevisiae, the substrate specificities of these five 2ODCs have not been systematically compared. When the five 2ODCs were individually overexpressed in a pdc1Δ pdc5Δ pdc6Δ aro10Δ thi3Δ strain, only Pdc1, Pdc5, and Pdc6 catalyzed the decarboxylation of the linear-chain 2-oxo acids pyruvate, 2-oxo-butanoate, and 2-oxo-pentanoate in cell extracts. The presence of a Pdc isoenzyme was also required for the production of n-propanol and n-butanol in cultures grown on threonine and norvaline, respectively, as nitrogen sources. These results demonstrate the importance of pyruvate decarboxylases in the natural production of n-propanol and n-butanol by S. cerevisiae. No decarboxylation activity was found for Thi3 with any of the substrates tested. Only Aro10 and Pdc5 catalyzed the decarboxylation of the aromatic substrate phenylpyruvate, with Aro10 showing superior kinetic properties. Aro10, Pdc1, Pdc5, and Pdc6 exhibited activity with all branched-chain and sulfur-containing 2-oxo acids tested but with markedly different decarboxylation kinetics. The high affinity of Aro10 identified it as a key contributor to the production of branched-chain and sulfur-containing fusel alcohols.