PDB rendering based on 1khb.
|phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (soluble)|
|Locus||Chr. 20 q13.31|
|phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 2 (mitochondrial)|
|Alt. symbols||PEPCK, PEPCK2|
|Locus||Chr. 14 q12|
Whereas most reactions of gluconeogenesis can use the glycolysis enzymes in the opposite direction, the pyruvate kinase enzyme is irreversible. The enzymes pyruvate carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase provide an alternative path to effectively reverse the actions of pyruvate kinase.
PEPCK in different species
PEPCK gene transcription occurs in many species, and the amino acid sequence of PEPCK is distinct for each species.
In animals, this is a rate-controlling step of gluconeogenesis, the process by which cells synthesize glucose from metabolic precursors. The blood glucose level is maintained within well-defined limits in part due to precise regulation of PEPCK gene expression. To emphasize the importance of PEPCK in glucose homeostasis, over expression of this enzyme in mice results in symptoms of type II diabetes mellitus, by far the most common form of diabetes in humans. Due to the importance of blood glucose homeostasis, a number of hormones regulate a set of genes (including PEPCK) in the liver that modulate the rate of glucose synthesis.
PEPCK is controlled by two different hormonal mechanisms. PEPCK activity is increased upon the secretion of both cortisol from the adrenal cortex and glucagon from the alpha cells of the pancreas. Glucagon indirectly elevates the expression of PEPCK by increasing the levels of cAMP (via activation of adenylyl cyclase) in the liver which consequently leads to the phosphorylation of S133 on a beta sheet in the CREB protein. CREB then binds upstream of the PEPCK gene at CRE (cAMP response element) and induces PEPCK transcription. Cortisol on the other hand, when released by the adrenal cortex, passes through the lipid membrane of liver cells (due to its hydrophobic nature it can pass directly through cell membranes) and then binds to a Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR). This receptor dimerizes and the cortisol/GR complex passes into the nucleus where it then binds to the Glucocorticoid Response Element (GRE) region in a similar manner to CREB and produces similar results (synthesis of more PEPCK).
Together, cortisol and glucagon can have huge synergistic results, activating the PEPCK gene to levels that neither cortisol or glucagon could reach on their own. PEPCK is most abundant in the liver, kidney, and adipose tissue.
A collaborative study between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of New Hampshire investigated the effect of DE-71, a commercial PBDE mixture, on PEPCK enzyme kinetics and determined that in vivo treatment of the environmental pollutant compromises liver glucose and lipid metabolism possibly by activation of the pregnane xenobiotic receptor (PXR), and may influence whole-body insulin sensitivity. 
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have discovered that overexpression of cytosolic PEPCK in skeletal muscle of mice causes them to be more active, more aggressive, and have longer lives than normal mice; see metabolic supermice.
PEPCK (EC 220.127.116.11) is one of three decarboxylation enzymes used in the inorganic carbon concentrating mechanisms of C4 and CAM plants. The others are NADP-malic enzyme and NAD-malic enzyme. In C4 carbon fixation, carbon dioxide is first fixed by combination with phosphoenolpyruvate to form oxaloacetate in the mesophyll. In PEPCK-type C4 plants the oxaloacetate is then converted to aspartate, which travels to the bundle sheath. In the bundle sheath cells, aspartate is converted back to oxaloacetate. PEPCK decarboxylates the bundle sheath oxaloacetate, releasing carbon dioxide, which is then fixed by the enzyme Rubisco. For each molecule of carbon dioxide produced by PEPCK, a molecule of ATP is consumed.
It has also been discovered that, in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), PEPCK levels are increased by multiple effects that are known to decrease the cellular pH of plants, although these effects are specific to the part of the plant.
PEPCK levels rose in roots and stems when the plants were watered with ammonium chloride at a low pH (but not at high pH), or with butyric acid. However, PEPCK levels did not increase in leaves under these conditions.
Function in gluconeogenesis
It has been shown that PEPCK catalyzes the rate-controlling step of gluconeogenesis, the process whereby glucose is synthesized. The enzyme has therefore been thought to be essential in glucose homeostasis, as evidenced by laboratory mice that contracted diabetes mellitus type 2 as a result of the overexpression of PEPCK.
PEPCK levels alone were not found to be highly correlated with gluconeogenesis in the mouse liver, as previous studies have suggested. Therefore, the role of PEPCK in gluconeogenesis may be more complex and involve more factors than was previously believed.
In humans there are two isoforms of PEPCK; a cytosolic form (SwissProt P35558) and a mitochondrial isoform (SwissProt Q16822) which have 63.4% sequence identity. The cytosolic form is important in gluconeogenesis. However, there is a known transport mechanism to move PEP from the mitochondria to the cytosol, using specific membrane transport proteins.
X-ray structures of PEPCK provide insight into the structure and the mechanism of PEPCK enzymatic activity. The mitochondrial isoform of chicken liver PEPCK complexed with Mn2+, Mn2+-phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP), and Mn2+-GDP provides information about its structure and how this enzyme catalyzes reactions. Delbaere et al. (2004) resolved PEPCK in E. coli and found the active site sitting between a C-terminal domain and an N-terminal domain. The active site was observed to be closed upon rotation of these domains.
Since the eclipsed formation is one that is high in energy, phosphoryl group transfer has a decreased energy of activation, meaning that the groups will transfer more readily. This transfer likely happens via a mechanism similar to SN2 displacement.
As PEPCK acts at the junction between glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, it causes decarboxylation of a C4 molecule, creating a C3 molecule. As the first committed step in gluconeogenesis, PEPCK decarboxylates, and phosphorylates oxaloacetate (OAA) for its conversion to PEP, when GTP is present. As a phosphate is transferred, the reaction results in a GDP molecule. When pyruvate kinase - the enzyme that normally catalyzes the reaction that converts PEP to pyruvate - is knocked out in mutants of Bacillus subtilis, PEPCK participates in one of the replacement anaplerotic reactions, working in the reverse direction of its normal function, converting PEP to OAA. Although this reaction is possible, the kinetics are so unfavorable that the mutants grow at a very slow pace or do not grow at all.
PEPCK is enhanced, both in terms of its production and activation, by many factors. Transcription of the PEPCK gene is stimulated by glucagon, glucocorticoids, retinoic acid, and adenosine 3’,5’-monophosphate (cAMP), while it is inhibited by insulin. Of these factors, insulin, a hormone that is deficient in the case of diabetes, is considered dominant, as it inhibits the transcription of many of the stimulatory elements. PEPCK activity is also inhibited by hydrazine sulfate, and the inhibition therefore decreases the rate of gluconeogenesis.
As discussed previously, PEPCK abundance increased when plants were watered with low-pH ammonium chloride, though high pH did not have this effect.
It is classified under EC number 4.1.1. There are three main types, distinguished by the source of the energy to drive the reaction:
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- Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (ATP) at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- -872021957 at GPnotebook
- "mighty mice" (PEPCK-Cmus mice) http://blog.case.edu/case-news/2007/11/02/mightymouse