Inactivation of horse liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase by disulfiram. Evidence that disulfiram is not an active-site-directed reagent

Biochem J. 1987 Mar 1;242(2):499-503. doi: 10.1042/bj2420499.


The inhibition of mitochondrial (pI 5) horse liver aldehyde dehydrogenase by disulfiram (tetraethylthiuram disulphide) was investigated to determine if the drug was an active-site-directed inhibitor. Stoichiometry of inhibition was determined by using an analogue, [35S]tetramethylthiuram disulphide. A 50% loss of the dehydrogenase activity was observed when only one site per tetrameric enzyme was modified, and complete inactivation was not obtained even after seven sites per tetramer were modified. Modification of only two sites accounted for a loss of 75% of the initial catalytic activity. The number of functioning active sites per tetrameric enzyme, as determined by the magnitude of the pre-steady-state burst of NADH formation, did not decrease until approx. 75% of the catalytic activity was lost. These data indicate that disulfiram does not modify the essential nucleophilic amino acid at the active site of the enzyme. The data support an inactivation mechanism involving the formation of a mixed disulphide with a non-essential cysteine residue, resulting in a lowered specific activity of the enzyme.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / drug effects
  • Disulfiram / pharmacology*
  • Horses
  • Kinetics
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Mitochondria, Liver / enzymology*
  • Thiram / pharmacology


  • Thiram
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Magnesium
  • Disulfiram