The sequences of genes encoding homologues of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) synthase, the first enzyme in the two-step biosynthetic pathway of the important plant hormone ethylene, have recently been found in Fugu rubripes and Homo sapiens (Peixoto et al., Gene 246 (2000) 275). ACC synthase (ACS) catalyzes the formation of ACC from S-adenosyl-L-methionine. ACC is oxidized to ethylene in the second and final step of ethylene biosynthesis. Profound physiological questions would be raised if it could be demonstrated that ACC is formed in animals, because there is no known function for ethylene in these organisms. We describe the cloning of the putative human ACS (PHACS) cDNA that encodes a 501 amino acid protein that exhibits 58% sequence identity to the putative Fugu ACS and approximately 30% sequence identity to plant ACSs. Purified recombinant PHACS, expressed in Pichia pastoris, contains bound pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP), but does not catalyze the synthesis of ACC. PHACS does, however, catalyze the deamination of L-vinylglycine, a known side-reaction of apple ACS. Bioinformatic analysis indicates that PHACS is a member of the alpha-family of PLP-dependent enzymes. Molecular modeling data illustrate that the conservation of residues between PHACS and the plant ACSs is dispersed throughout its structure and that two active site residues that are important for ACS activity in plants are not conserved in PHACS.