Cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase activity of Aedes aegypti aspartate 1-decarboxylase: the structural basis of its substrate selectivity

Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Jun;42(6):396-403. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.02.001.


Insect aspartate 1-decarboxylase (ADC) catalyzes the decarboxylation of aspartate to β-alanine. Insect ADC proteins share high sequence identity to mammalian cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase (CSADC), but there have been no reports indicating any CSADC activity in insect ADC or any ADC activity in mammalian CSADC. Substrate screening of Aedes aegypti ADC (AeADC), however, demonstrates that other than its activity to aspartate, the mosquito enzyme catalyzes the decarboxylation of cysteine sulfinic acid and cysteic acid as efficiently as those of mammalian CSADC under the same testing conditions. Further analysis of Drosophila melanogaster ADC also demonstrated its CSADC activity, suggesting that all insect ADC likely has CSADC activity. This represents the first identification of CSADC activity of insect ADC. On the other hand, HuCSADC displayed no detectable activity to aspartate. Homology modeling of AeADC and substrate docking suggest that residue Q377, localized at the active site of AeADC, could better interact with aspartate through hydrogen bonding, which may play a role in aspartate selectivity. A leucine residue in mammalian CSADC occupies the same position. A mutation at position 377 from glutamine to leucine in AeADC diminished its decarboxylation activity to aspartate with no major effect on its CSADC activity. Comparison of insect ADC sequences revealed that Q377 is stringently conserved among the available insect ADC sequences. Our data clearly established the CSADC activity of mosquito and Drosophila ADC and revealed the primary role Q377 plays in aspartate selectivity in insect ADC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / enzymology*
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Insect Proteins
  • Aspartic Acid
  • aspartate-alpha-decarboxylase
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • Cysteine
  • cysteine sulfinic acid