The pyruvate dehydrogenase multienzyme complex from Bacillus stearothermophilus comprises a structural core, composed of 60 dihydrolipoamide acetyltransferase (E2p) subunits, which binds multiple copies of pyruvate decarboxylase (E1p) and dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (E3) subunits. After limited proteolysis with chymotrypsin, the N-terminal lipoyl domain of E2p was excised, purified and sequenced. The residual complex, which remained assembled, was then digested with trypsin under mild conditions. This treatment promoted complete disassembly of the complex and the various components were separated by gel filtration and h.p.l.c. A folded fragment of E2p containing about 50 amino acid residues was identified as being responsible for binding the E3 subunits, although, unlike the corresponding region of the E2p or E2o chains of the pyruvate dehydrogenase or 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complexes from Escherichia coli, the fragment also bound E1p molecules. Further peptide purification and sequence analysis allowed the determination of the first 211 amino acid residues of the B. stearothermophilus E2p chain, thus providing the complete primary structure of the lipoyl domain, the E1p/E3-binding domain and the regions of polypeptide chain, probably highly flexible in nature, that link the domains to each other and to the inner-core (E2p-binding) domain. Several of the proteolytically sensitive sites were also identified. The sequence of the B. stearothermophilus E2p chain shows close homology with the sequences of the E2p and E2o chains from E. coli, although significant differences in structure are apparent. Detailed evidence for the sequence of the peptides obtained by limited proteolysis and further chemical and enzymic cleavages have been deposited as Supplementary Publication SUP 50142 (11 pages) at the British Library Lending Division, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 6BQ, U.K., from whom copies may be obtained as indicated in Biochem. J. (1988) 249, 5.

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