Structure-function relationships in the 2-oxo acid dehydrogenase family: substrate-specific signatures and functional predictions for the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase-like proteins

Proteins. 2008 May 1;71(2):874-90. doi: 10.1002/prot.21766.


Structural relationship within the family of the thiamine diphosphate-dependent 2-oxo acid dehydrogenases was analyzed by combining different methods of sequence alignment with crystallographic and enzymological studies of the family members. For the first time, the sequence similarity of the homodimeric 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase to heterotetrameric 2-oxo acid dehydrogenases is established. The presented alignment of the catalytic domains of the dehydrogenases of pyruvate, branched-chain 2-oxo acids and 2-oxoglutarate unravels the sequence markers of the substrate specificity and the essential residues of the family members without the 3D structures resolved. Predicted dual substrate specificity of some of the 2-oxo acid dehydrogenases was confirmed experimentally. The results were used to decipher functions of the two hypothetical proteins of animal genomes, OGDHL and DHTKD1, similar to the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase. Conservation of all the essential residues confirmed their catalytic competence. Sequence analysis indicated that OGDHL represents a previously unknown isoform of the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase, whereas DHTKD1 differs from the homologs at the N-terminus and substrate binding pocket. The differences suggest changes in heterologous protein interactions and accommodation of more polar and/or bulkier structural analogs of 2-oxoglutarate, such as 2-oxoadipate, 2-oxo-4-hydroxyglutarate, or products of the carboligase reaction between a 2-oxodicarboxylate and glyoxylate or acetaldehyde. The signatures of the Ca2+-binding sites were found in the Ca2+-activated 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase and OGDHL, but not in DHTKD1. Mitochondrial localization was predicted for OGDHL and DHTKD1, with DHTKD1 probably localized also to nuclei. Medical implications of the obtained results are discussed in view of the possible associations of the 2-oxo acid dehydrogenases and DHTKD1 with neurodegeneration and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Methyl-2-Oxobutanoate Dehydrogenase (Lipoamide) / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Nucleus / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex / chemistry*
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase (Lipoamide) / chemistry
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate / metabolism


  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase (Lipoamide)
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • 3-Methyl-2-Oxobutanoate Dehydrogenase (Lipoamide)
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate