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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. Mar 2003; 67(1): 1–15.
PMCID: PMC150519
Leucine Biosynthesis in Fungi: Entering Metabolism through the Back Door
Gunter B. Kohlhaw*
Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
*Mailing address: Department of Biochemistry Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Phone: (765) 494-1616. Fax: (765) 494-7897. E-mail: kohlhaw/at/purdue.edu.
Abstract
After exploring evolutionary aspects of branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis, the review focuses on the extended leucine biosynthetic pathway as it operates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. First, the genes and enzymes specific for the leucine pathway are considered: LEU4 and LEU9 (encoding the α-isopropylmalate synthase isoenzymes), LEU1 (isopropylmalate isomerase), and LEU2 (β-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase). Emphasis is given to the unusual distribution of the branched-chain amino acid pathway enzymes between mitochondrial matrix and cytosol, on the newly defined role of Leu5p, and on regulatory mechanisms governing gene expression and enzyme activity, including new evidence for the metabolic importance of the regulation of α-isopropylmalate synthase by coenzyme A. Next, structure-function relationships of the transcriptional regulator Leu3p are addressed, defining its dual role as activator and repressor and discussing evidence in support of the self-masking model. Recent data pointing at a more extended Leu3p regulon are discussed. An overview of the layered controls of the extended leucine pathway is provided that includes a description of the newly recognized roles of Ilv5p and Bat1p in maintaining mitochondrial integrity. Finally, branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis and its regulation in other fungi are summarized, the question of leucine as metabolic signal is addressed, and possible directions of future research in this area are outlined.
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