Decarboxylation mechanisms in biological system

Bioorg Chem. 2012 Aug;43:2-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bioorg.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


This review examines the mechanisms propelling cofactor-independent, organic cofactor-dependent and metal-dependent decarboxylase chemistry. Decarboxylation, the removal of carbon dioxide from organic acids, is a fundamentally important reaction in biology. Numerous decarboxylase enzymes serve as key components of aerobic and anaerobic carbohydrate metabolism and amino acid conversion. In the past decade, our knowledge of the mechanisms enabling these crucial decarboxylase reactions has continued to expand and inspire. This review focuses on the organic cofactors biotin, flavin, NAD, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate, pyruvoyl, and thiamin pyrophosphate as catalytic centers. Significant attention is also placed on the metal-dependent decarboxylase mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Carboxy-Lyases / chemistry
  • Carboxy-Lyases / metabolism*
  • Decarboxylation
  • Flavins / metabolism
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Metals / metabolism
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / metabolism
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Flavins
  • Free Radicals
  • Metals
  • NAD
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate
  • Biotin
  • Carboxy-Lyases
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate