A gene duplication led to specialized gamma-aminobutyrate and beta-alanine aminotransferase in yeast

Gorm Andersen, Birgit Andersen, D. Dobritzsch, K.D. Schnackerz, Jure Piskur

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In humans, beta-alanine (BAL) and the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA) are transaminated by a single aminotransferase enzyme. Apparently, yeast originally also had a single enzyme, but the corresponding gene was duplicated in the Saccharomyces kluyveri lineage. SkUGA1 encodes a homologue of Saccharomyces cerevisiae GABA aminotransferase, and SkPYD4 encodes an enzyme involved in both BAL and GABA transamination. SkPYD4 and SkUGA1 as well as S. cerevisiae UGA1 and Schizosaccharomyces pombe UGA1 were subcloned, over-expressed and purified. One discontinuous and two continuous coupled assays were used to characterize the substrate specificity and kinetic parameters of the four enzymes. It was found that the cofactor pyridoxal 5'-phosphate is needed for enzymatic activity and alpha-ketoglutarate, and not pyruvate, as the amino group acceptor. SkPyd4p preferentially uses BAL as the amino group donor (V-max/K-m = 0.78 U.mg(-1).mM(-1)), but can also use GABA (V-max/K-m = 0.42 U.mg(-1).mM(-1)), while SkUga1p only uses GABA (V-max/K-m = 4.01 U.mg(-1).mM(-1)). SpUga1p and ScUga1p transaminate only GABA and not BAL. While mammals degrade BAL and GABA with only one enzyme, but in different tissues, S. kluyveri and related yeasts have two different genes/enzymes to apparently 'distinguish' between the two reactions in a single cell. It is likely that upon duplication similar to 200 million years ago, a specialized Uga1p evolved into a 'novel' transaminase enzyme with broader substrate specificity.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalF E B S Journal
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1804-1817
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Saccharomyces kluyveri
    • gamma-aminobutyrate
    • aminotransferase
    • beta-alanine
    • gene duplication


    Dive into the research topics of 'A gene duplication led to specialized gamma-aminobutyrate and beta-alanine aminotransferase in yeast'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this