A method for the preparation of D- and L-glutamyl alpha-chloromethyl ketones (4-amino-6-chloro-5-oxohexanoic acid) is described. These chloromethyl ketones irreversibly inactivated bovine glutamate dehydrogenase, whereas several other related compounds had no adverse effect on the activity of the enzyme. The inactivation process was shown to be due to the modification of lysine-126. The time-courses for the inactivation and the incorporation of radioactivity from tritiated L-glutamyl alpha-chloromethyl ketone into the glutamate dehydrogenase were biphasic. The results were interpreted to suggest the involvement of ‘negative co-operative’ interactions in the reactivity of lysine-126. From the cumulative evidence it is argued that the first subunit of the enzyme, which takes part in catalysis, makes the largest, and the last the smallest, contribution to the overall catalysis. It is emphasized that three of the six subunits of the enzyme may possess as much as 80% of the total activity of bovine glutamate dehydrogenase.

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