Isopycnic sucrose gradient separation of rat liver organelles revealed the presence of two distinct branched-chain α-keto acid decarboxylase activities; a mitochondrial activity, which decarboxylates the three branched-chain α-keto acids and requires CoA and NAD+and a cytosolic activity, which decarboxylates α-ketoisocaproate, but not α-ketoisovalerate, or α-keto-β-methylvalerate. The latter enzyme does not require added CoA or NAD+. Assay conditions for the cytosolic α-ketoisocaproate decarboxylase activity were optimized and this activity was partially characterized. In rat liver cytosol preparations this activity has a pH optimum of 6.5 and is activated by 1.5 m ammonium sulfate. The decarboxylase activity has an apparent Kmof 0.03 mm for α-ketoisocaproate when optimized assay conditions are employed. Phenylpyruvate is a very potent inhibitor. α-Ketoisovalerate, α-keto-β-methylvalerate, α-ketobutyrate, and α-ketononanoate also inhibit the α-ketoisocaproate decarboxylase activity. The data indicate that the soluble α-ketoisocaproate decarboxylase is an oxidase. Rat liver cytosol preparations consumed oxygen when either α-ketoisocaproate or α-keto-γ-methiolbutyrate were added. None of the other α-keto acids tested stimulated oxygen consumption. 1-14C-Labeled α-keto-γ-methiolbutyrate is also decarboxylated by cytosol preparations. The α-ketoisocaproate oxidase was purified 20-fold from a 70,000g supernatant fraction of a rat liver homogenate. In these preparations the activity was increased 4-fold by the addition of dithiothreitol, ferrous iron, and ascorbate. The major product of this enzyme activity is β-hydroxyisovalerate. Isovalerate is not a free intermediate in the reaction. The data indicate an alternative pathway for metabolism of α-ketoisocaproate which produces β-hydroxyisovalerate. © 1981.
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