The activity of the pyruvate dehydrogenase multienzyme complex (PDC), which catalyses the oxidation of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA within the mitochondrion, is diminished in animal models of diabetes. Studies with purified PDC components have suggested that the kinases responsible for inactivating the decarboxylase catalytic subunits of the complex are most efficient in their regulatory role when they are bound to dihydrolipoyl acetyltransferase (E2) subunits, which form the structural core of the complex. We report that the addition of an exogenous E2 subdomain (inner lipoyl domain) to an intact PDC inhibits ATP-dependent inactivation of the complex. By combining molecular modelling, site-directed mutagenesis and biophysical characterizations, we have also identified two amino acid residues in this subdomain (Ile229 and Phe231) that largely determine the magnitude of this effect.

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