3-Isopropylmalate is the major endogenous substrate of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae trans-aconitate methyltransferase

Biochemistry. 2004 May 25;43(20):5976-86. doi: 10.1021/bi049784+.


The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Tmt1 gene product is the yeast homologue of the Escherichia coli enzyme that catalyzes the methyl esterification of trans-aconitate, a thermodynamically favored isomer of cis-aconitate and an inhibitor of the citric acid cycle. It has been proposed that methylation may attenuate trans-aconitate inhibition of aconitase and other enzymes of the cycle. Although trans-aconitate is a minor endogenous substrate of the Tmt1 enzyme in extracts of S. cerevisiae, the major endogenous substrate has yet to be identified. We show here that a trimethylsilylated derivative of the major methylated endogenous product of Tmt1 in yeast extracts has an identical gas chromatography retention time and an identical electron impact mass spectrum as one of the two possible monomethyl ester derivatives of (2R,3S)-3-isopropylmalate. (2R,3S)-3-Isopropylmalate is an intermediate of the leucine biosynthetic pathway that shares similar intermediates and reaction chemistry with the portion of the citric acid cycle from oxaloacetate to alpha-ketoglutarate via cis-aconitate. The Tmt1 methyltransferase recognizes (2R,3S)-3-isopropylmalate with similar kinetics as it does trans-aconitate, with respective K(m) values of 127 and 53 microM and V(max) values of 59 and 70 nmol min(-1) mg(-1) of protein in a Tmt1-overexpressed yeast extract. However, we found that isopropylfumarate, the direct homologue of trans-aconitate in the leucine biosynthetic pathway, was at best a very poor substrate for the Tmt1 yeast enzyme. Similarly, the direct homologue of 3-isopropylmalate in the citric acid cycle, isocitrate, is also a very poor substrate. This apparent change in specificity between the intermediates of these two pathways can be understood in terms of the binding of these substrates to the active site. These results suggest that the Tmt1 methyltransferase may work in two different pathways in two different ways: for detoxification in the citric acid cycle and for a possibly novel biosynthetic branch reaction of the leucine biosynthetic pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aconitic Acid / chemistry
  • Aconitic Acid / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Carboxylic Acids / chemistry
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • Citric Acid Cycle
  • Isomerism
  • Leucine / biosynthesis
  • Malates / chemistry
  • Malates / metabolism*
  • Methylation
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Malates
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • beta-isopropylmalate
  • Aconitic Acid
  • Methyltransferases
  • aconitate methyltransferase
  • Leucine