It is widely assumed that the control coefficient of an enzyme on pathway flux decreases as the concentration of enzyme increases. However, it has been shown [Kholodenko and Brown (1996) Biochem. J. 314, 753–760] that enzymes with sigmoidal kinetics can maintain or even gain control with an increase in enzyme activity or concentration. This has been described as ‘paradoxical control’. Here we formulate the general requirements for allosteric enzyme kinetics to display this behaviour. We show that a necessary condition is that the Hill coefficient of the enzyme should increase with an increase in substrate concentration or decrease with an increase in product concentration. We also describe the necessary and sufficient requirements for the occurrence of paradoxical control in terms of the flux control coefficients and the derivatives of the elasticities. The derived expression shows that the higher the control coefficient of an allosteric enzyme, the more likely it is that the pathway will display this behaviour. Control of pathway flux is generally shared between a large number of enzymes and therefore the likelihood of observing sustained or increased control is low, even if the kinetic parameters are in the most favourable range to generate the phenomenon. We show that hepatic glucokinase, which has a very high flux control coefficient and displays sigmoidal behaviour within the hepatocyte in situ as a result of interaction with a regulatory protein, displays sustained or increased control over an extended range of enzyme concentrations when the regulatory protein is overexpressed.

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