Decreased function of human mitochondrial branched chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex results in branched chain ketoacidemia or maple syrup urine disease. Activity of this multienzyme complex varies from 0 to approximately 15% of wild type branched chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex activity within the population of homozygous affected individuals. We used the technique of Western Blotting with antibodies against purified bovine liver branched chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex to screen mitochondrial proteins from cultured human fibroblasts for immunocrossreactive proteins. This method probes the physical structure of the proteins forming this multienzyme complex. One patient with branched chain ketoacidemia lacked an immunoreactive transacylase protein. This protein catalyzes the transfer of the branched chain acyl group from the decarboxylase to reduced coenzyme A. Kinetic analysis of the enzyme activity in cell lysates from this patient confirmed that the complex would not utilize coenzyme A. Thus, we have defined a structural basis for an impaired multienzyme complex of mitochondria in man.
D J Danner, N Armstrong, S C Heffelfinger, E T Sewell, J H Priest, L J Elsas