1. The mechanisms of the reduction of oxaloacetate and of 3-fluoro-oxaloacetate by NADH catalysed by cytoplasmic pig heart malate dehydrogenase (MDH) were investigated. 2. One mol of dimeric enzyme produces 1.7+/-0.4 mol of enzyme-bound NADH when mixed with saturating NAD+ and L-malate at a rate much higher than the subsequent turnover at pH 7.5. 3. Transient measurements of protein and nucleotide fluorescence show that the steady-state complex in the forward direction is MDH-NADH and in the reverse direction MDH-NADH-oxaloacetate. 4. The rate of dissociation of MDH-NADH was measured and is the same as Vmax. in the forward direction at pH 7.5. Both NADH-binding sites are kinetically equivalent. The rate of dissociation varies with pH, as does the equilibrium binding constant for NADH. 5. 3-Fluoro-oxaloacetate is composed of three forms (F1, F2 and S) of which F1 and F2 are immediately substrates for the enzyme. The third form, S, is not a substrate, but when the F forms are used up form S slowly and non-enzymically equilibrates to yield the active substrate forms. S is 2,2-dihydroxy-3-fluorosuccinate. 6. The steady-state compound during the reduction of form F1 is an enzyme form that does not contain NADH, probably MDH-NAD+-fluoromalate. The steady-state compound for form F2 is an enzyme form containing NADH, probably MDH-NADH-fluoro-oxaloacetate. 7. The rate-limiting reaction in the reduction of form F2 shows a deuterium isotope rate ratio of 4 when NADH is replaced by its deuterium analogue, and the rate-limiting reaction is concluded to be hydride transfer. 8. A novel titration was used to show that dimeric cytoplasmic malate dehydrogenase contains two sites that can rapidly reduce the F1 form of 3-fluoro-oxaloacetate. The enzyme shows ‘all-of-the-sites’ behaviour. 9. Partial mechanisms are proposed to explain the enzyme-catalysed transformations of the natural and the fluoro substrates. These mechanisms are similar to the mechanism of pig heart lactate dehydrogenase and this, and the structural results of others, can be explained if the two enzymes are a product of divergent evolution.

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