Pyruvate decarboxylase is a homotetrameric enzyme that catalyses the decarboxylation of pyruvic acid to acetaldehyde and carbon dioxide in the cytoplasm of prokaryotes, and in the cytoplasm and mitochondria of eukaryotes. It is also called 2-oxo-acid carboxylase, alpha-ketoacid carboxylase, and pyruvic decarboxylase. In anaerobic conditions, this enzyme is part of the fermentation process that occurs in yeast, especially of the genus Saccharomyces, to produce ethanol by fermentation. It is also present in some species of fish where it permits the fish to perform ethanol fermentation when oxygen is scarce. Pyruvate decarboxylase starts this process by converting pyruvate into acetaldehyde and carbon dioxide. Pyruvate decarboxylase depends on cofactors thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) and magnesium. This enzyme should not be mistaken for the unrelated enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase, an oxidoreductase, that catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA.
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