Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) catalyzes the reversible NADP+-dependent conversion of isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate (αKG) to provide critical cytosolic substrates and drive NADPH-dependent reactions like lipid biosynthesis and glutathione regeneration. In biochemical studies, the forward reaction is studied at neutral pH, while the reverse reaction is typically characterized in more acidic buffers. This led us to question whether IDH1 catalysis is pH-regulated, which would have functional implications under conditions that alter cellular pH, like apoptosis, hypoxia, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we show evidence of catalytic regulation of IDH1 by pH, identifying a trend of increasing kcat values for αKG production upon increasing pH in the buffers we tested. To understand the molecular determinants of IDH1 pH sensitivity, we used the pHinder algorithm to identify buried ionizable residues predicted to have shifted pKa values. Such residues can serve as pH sensors, with changes in protonation states leading to conformational changes that regulate catalysis. We identified an acidic residue buried at the IDH1 dimer interface, D273, with a predicted pKa value upshifted into the physiological range. D273 point mutations had decreased catalytic efficiency and, importantly, loss of pH-regulated catalysis. Based on these findings, we conclude that IDH1 activity is regulated, at least in part, by pH. We show this regulation is mediated by at least one buried acidic residue ~12 Å from the IDH1 active site. By establishing mechanisms of regulation of this well-conserved enzyme, we highlight catalytic features that may be susceptible to pH changes caused by cell stress and disease.

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