Physiological covalent regulation of rat liver branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase

Robert A. Harris, Steven M. Powell, Ralph Paxton, Sarah E. Gillim, Hidetoshi Nagae

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53 Scopus citations


A radiochemical assay was developed for measuring branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase activity of Triton X-100 extracts of freeze-clamped rat liver. The proportion of active (dephosphorylated) enzyme was determined by measuring enzyme activities before and after activation of the complex with a broad-specificity phosphoprotein phosphatase. Hepatic branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase activity in normal male Wistar rats was 97% active but decreased to 33% active after 2 days on low-protein (8%) diet and to 13% active after 4 days on the same diet. Restricting protein intake of lean and obese female Zucker rats also caused inactivation of hepatic branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex. Essentially all of the enzyme was in the active state in rats maintained for 14 days on either 30 or 50% protein diets. This was also the case for rats maintained on a commercial chow diet (minimum 23% protein). However, maintaining rats on 20, 8, and 0% protein diets decreased the percentage of the active form of the enzyme to 58, 10, and 7% of the total, respectively. Fasting of chow-fed rats for 48 h had no effect on the activity state of hepatic branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase, i.e., 93% of the enzyme remained in the active state compared to 97% for chow-fed rats. However, hepatic enzyme of rats maintained on 8% protein diet was 10% active before starvation and 83% active after 2 days of starvation. Thus, dietary protein deficiency results in inactivation of hepatic branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex, presumably as a consequence of low hepatic levels of branched-chain α-ketoacids, established inhibitors of branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase. With rats fed a low-protein diet and subsequently starved, inhibition of branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase by branched-chain α-ketoacids generated as a consequence of endogenous proteolysis most likely promotes the greater branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase activity state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-555
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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