Glyoxalase I from yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) purified by affinity chromatography on S-hexylglutathione–Sepharose 6B was characterized and compared with the enzyme from rat liver, pig erythrocytes and human erythrocytes. The molecular weight of glyoxalase I from yeast was, like the enzyme from Rhodospirillum rubrum and Escherichia coli, significantly less (approx. 32000) than that of the enzyme from mammals (approx. 46000). The yeast enzyme is a monomer, whereas the mammalian enzymes are composed of two very similar or identical subunits. The enzymes contain 1Zn atom per subunit. The isoelectric points (at 4°C) for the yeast and mammalian enzymes are at pH7.0 and 4.8 respectively; tryptic-peptide ‘maps’ display corresponding dissimilarities in structure. These and some additional data indicate that the microbial and the mammalian enzymes may have separate evolutionary origins. The similarities demonstrated in mechanistic and kinetic properties, on the other hand, indicate convergent evolution. The kcat. and Km values for the yeast enzyme were both higher than those for the enzyme from the mammalian sources with the hemimercaptal adduct of methylglyoxal or phenylglyoxal as the varied substrate and free glutathione at a constant and physiological concentration (2mm). Glyoxalase I from all sources investigated had a kcat./Km value near 107s−1·m−1, which is close to the theoretical diffusion-controlled rate of enzyme–substrate association. The initial-velocity data show non-Michaelian rate saturation and apparent non-linear inhibition by free glutathione for both yeast and mammalian enzyme. This rate behaviour may have physiological importance, since it counteracts the effects of fluctuations in total glutathione concentrations on the glyoxalase I-dependent metabolism of 2-oxoaldehydes.

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