Crystal structure of enolase indicates that enolase and pyruvate kinase evolved from a common ancestor

Nature. 1988 Jun 16;333(6174):683-6. doi: 10.1038/333683a0.


Enolase or 2-phospho-D-glycerate hydrolase catalyses the dehydration of 2-phosphoglycerate to phosphoenolpyruvate, which in turn is converted by pyruvate kinase to pyruvate. We describe here the crystallographic determination of the structure of yeast enolase at high resolution (2.25 A) and an analysis of the structural homology between enolase, pyruvate kinase and triose phosphate isomerase. Each of the two subunits of enolase forms two distinctive domains. The larger domain (residues 143-420) is a regular 8-fold beta/alpha-barrel, as first found in triose phosphate isomerase, and later in pyruvate kinase and 11 other functionally different enzymes. An analysis of the molecular geometries of enolase and pyruvate kinase based on the roughly 8-fold symmetry of the barrel showed a structural homology better than expected for proteins related by convergent evolution. We argue that enolase and pyruvate kinase have evolved from a common ancestral multifunctional enzyme which could process phosphoenolpyruvate in both directions along the glycolytic pathway. There is structural and sequence evidence that muconate lactonizing enzyme later evolved from enolase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase* / genetics
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pyruvate Kinase* / genetics
  • X-Ray Diffraction / methods


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Pyruvate Kinase
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase