Pyruvate decarboxylases (PDCs) are a class of enzymes which carry out the non-oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate to acetaldehyde. These enzymes are also capable of carboligation reactions and can generate chiral intermediates of substantial pharmaceutical interest. Typically, the decarboxylation and carboligation processes are carried out using whole cell systems. However, fermentative organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae are known to contain several PDC isozymes; the precise suitability and role of each of these isozymes in these processes is not well understood. S. cerevisiae has three catalytic isozymes of pyruvate decarboxylase (ScPDCs). Of these, ScPDC1 has been investigated in detail by various groups with the other two catalytic isozymes, ScPDC5 and ScPDC6 being less well characterized. Pyruvate decarboxylase activity can also be detected in the cell lysates of Komagataella pastoris, a Crabtree-negative yeast, and consequently it is of interest to investigate whether this enzyme has different kinetic properties. This is also the first report of the expression and functional characterization of pyruvate decarboxylase from K. pastoris (PpPDC). This investigation helps in understanding the roles of the three isozymes at different phases of S. cerevisiae fermentation as well as their relevance for ethanol and carboligation reactions. The kinetic and physical properties of the four isozymes were determined using similar conditions of expression and characterization. ScPDC5 has comparable decarboxylation efficiency to that of ScPDC1; however, the former has the highest rate of reaction, and thus can be used for industrial production of ethanol. ScPDC6 has the least decarboxylation efficiency of all three isozymes of S. cerevisiae. PpPDC in comparison to all isozymes of S. cerevisiae is less efficient at decarboxylation. All the enzymes exhibit allostery, indicating that they are substrate activated.
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