We identified a new mutation, Asp578Tyr, in α-isopropylmalate synthase (a LEU4 gene product) that releases leucine feedback inhibition and causes hyperproduction of isoamyl alcohol (i-AmOH) in sake yeast. Spontaneous sake yeast mutants that express resistance to 5,5,5-trifluoro-DL-leucine (TFL) were isolated, and a mutant strain, TFL20, was characterized at the genetic and biochemical levels. An enzyme assay for α-isopropylmalate synthase showed that strain TFL20 was released from feedback inhibition by L-leucine. Furthermore, DNA sequencing of the LEU4 gene for a haploid of the mutant TFL20 revealed that aspartic acid in position 578 changes to tyrosine. A comparison of the three-dimensional structures of wild-type LEU4p and mutant LEU4D578Yp by the homology modeling method showed that Asp578 is important for leucine feedback inhibition. We conclude that the mutation from Asp to Tyr in 578 is a novel change causing release from leucine feedback inhibition.
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