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The gene for a eukaryotic phenolic acid decarboxylase of Candida guilliermondii was cloned, sequenced, and expressed in Escherichia coli for the first time. The structural gene contained an open reading frame of 504 bp, corresponding to 168 amino acids with a calculated molecular mass of 19,828 Da. The deduced amino sequence exhibited low similarity to those of functional phenolic acid decarboxylases previously reported from bacteria with 25-39% identity and to those of PAD1 and FDC1 proteins from Saccharomyces cerevisiae with less than 14% identity. The C. guilliermondii phenolic acid decarboxylase converted the main substrates ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid to the respective corresponding products. Surprisingly, the ultrafiltrate (Mr 10,000-cut-off) of the cell-free extract of C. guilliermondii remarkably activated the ferulic acid decarboxylation by the purified enzyme, whereas it was almost without effect on the p-coumaric acid decarboxylation. Gel-filtration chromatography of the ultrafiltrate suggested that an endogenous amino thiol-like compound with a molecular weight greater than Mr 1,400 was responsible for the activation.