Protein—protein interactions play an important role in the regulation of enzymic activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK). It is generally believed that the binding of PDK to the inner lipoyl-bearing domain L2 of the transacetylase component E2 of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex largely determines the level of kinase activity. In the present study, we characterized the interaction between the individual isoenzymes of PDK (PDK1—PDK4) and monomeric L2 domain of human E2, as well as the effect of this interaction on kinase activity. It was found that PDK isoenzymes are markedly different with respect to their affinities for L2. PDK3 demonstrated a very tight binding, which persisted during isolation of PDK3—L2 complexes using size-exclusion chromatography. Binding of PDK1 and PDK2 was readily reversible with the apparent dissociation constant of approx. 10μM for both isoenzymes. PDK4 had a greatly reduced capacity for L2 binding (relative order PDK3>PDK1 = PDK2>PDK4). Monomeric L2 domain alone had very little effect on the activities of either PDK1 or PDK2. In contrast, L2 caused a 3-fold increase in PDK3 activity and approx. 37% increase in PDK4 activity. These results strongly suggest that the interactions between the individual isoenzymes of PDK and L2 domain are isoenzyme-specific and might be among the major factors that determine the level of kinase activity of particular isoenzyme towards the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.

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