Functional Lysine Modification by an Intrinsically Reactive Primary Glycolytic Metabolite

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Science  02 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6145, pp. 549-553
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238327

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Modification Without Enzymes

Control of metabolic enzymes and regulation of many other biological processes is mediated in large part by binding of small molecules to proteins or through enzymatically medimediated covalent posttranslational modification of proteins. Moellering and Cravatt (p. 549) wondered whether another scenario might occur in which reactive intermediates in a metabolic pathway might specifically react with and modify particular amino acids in proteins to produce regulatory changes without the need for catalysis by another enzyme. A particularly reactive intermediate formed during glycolysis, 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate, could nonenzymatically modify specific lysines in proteins, providing a means by which accumulation of metabolic intermediates could provide regulatory feedback to balance or control flux through various pathways. Proteomic analysis showed that the 3-phosphoglyceryl-lysine formed when certain lysine residues interacted with 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate produced naturally in cells and was particularly common in proteins that function in glycolysis. Such modification decreased activity of the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase.


The posttranslational modification of proteins and their regulation by metabolites represent conserved mechanisms in biology. At the confluence of these two processes, we report that the primary glycolytic intermediate 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate (1,3-BPG) reacts with select lysine residues in proteins to form 3-phosphoglyceryl-lysine (pgK). This reaction, which does not require enzyme catalysis, but rather exploits the electrophilicity of 1,3-BPG, was found by proteomic profiling to be enriched on diverse classes of proteins and prominently in or around the active sites of glycolytic enzymes. pgK modifications inhibit glycolytic enzymes and, in cells exposed to high glucose, accumulate on these enzymes to create a potential feedback mechanism that contributes to the buildup and redirection of glycolytic intermediates to alternate biosynthetic pathways.

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