Pyruvate decarboxylase catalyzes decarboxylation of branched-chain 2-oxo acids but is not essential for fusel alcohol production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae.Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Apr; 64(4):1303-7.AE
The fusel alcohols 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol, and 2-methyl-propanol are important flavor compounds in yeast-derived food products and beverages. The formation of these compounds from branched-chain amino acids is generally assumed to occur via the Ehrlich pathway, which involves the concerted action of a branched-chain transaminase, a decarboxylase, and an alcohol dehydrogenase. Partially purified preparations of pyruvate decarboxylase (EC 126.96.36.199) have been reported to catalyze the decarboxylation of the branched-chain 2-oxo acids formed upon transamination of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Indeed, in a coupled enzymatic assay with horse liver alcohol dehydrogenase, cell extracts of a wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain exhibited significant decarboxylation rates with these branched-chain 2-oxo acids. Decarboxylation of branched-chain 2-oxo acids was not detectable in cell extracts of an isogenic strain in which all three PDC genes had been disrupted. Experiments with cell extracts from S. cerevisiae mutants expressing a single PDC gene demonstrated that both PDC1- and PDC5-encoded isoenzymes can decarboxylate branched-chain 2-oxo acids. To investigate whether pyruvate decarboxylase is essential for fusel alcohol production by whole cells, wild-type S. cerevisiae and an isogenic pyruvate decarboxylase-negative strain were grown on ethanol with a mixture of leucine, isoleucine, and valine as the nitrogen source. Surprisingly, the three corresponding fusel alcohols were produced in both strains. This result proves that decarboxylation of branched-chain 2-oxo acids via pyruvate decarboxylase is not an essential step in fusel alcohol production.