An improved procedure for purifying aldehyde reductase is described. Utilization of Blue Dextran–Sepharose 4B and elimination of hydroxyapatite chromatography greatly improves the yield and ease of purification. Starting with 340 g of kidney tissue (two pig kidneys) approx. 50 mg of purified reductase may be routinely and reproducibly obtained. The purified reductase was used to establish the kinetic reaction mechanism of the enzyme. Initial-velocity analysis and product-inhibition data revealed that pig kidney aldehyde reductase follows an Ordered Bi Bi reaction mechanism in which NADPH binds first before D-glyceraldehyde. The limiting Michaelis constants for D-glyceraldehyde and NADPH were 4.8 +/- 0.7 mM and 9.1 +/- 2.1 micrometer respectively. The mechanism is similar to that of another monomeric oxidoreductase, octopine dehydrogenase, towards which aldehyde reductase exhibits several similarities, but differs from that of other aldehyde reductases. Phenobarbital is a potent inhibitor of aldehyde reductase, inhibiting both substrate and cofactor non-competitively (Ki = 80.4 +/- 10.5 micrometer and 66.9 +/- 1.6 micrometer respectively). Barbiturate inhibition seems to be a common property of NADPH-dependent aldehyde reductases.

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