Amino Acids

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 173–210 | Cite as

Acetohydroxyacid synthase and its role in the biosynthetic pathway for branched-chain amino acids

  • J. A. McCourt
  • R. G. Duggleby
Review Article


The branched-chain amino acids are synthesized by plants, fungi and microorganisms, but not by animals. Therefore, the enzymes of this pathway are potential target sites for the development of antifungal agents, antimicrobials and herbicides. Most research has focused upon the first enzyme in this biosynthetic pathway, acetohydroxyacid synthase (AHAS) largely because it is the target site for many commercial herbicides. In this review we provide a brief overview of the important properties of each enzyme within the pathway and a detailed summary of the most recent AHAS research, against the perspective of work that has been carried out over the past 50 years.

Keywords: Acetohydroxyacid synthase – Acetolactate synthase – Branched-chain amino acids – Thiamin diphosphate – Flavin adenine dinucleotide – Herbicide – Inhibitor – Mechanism – Protein structure 



2-isopropylmalate synthase




3-isopropylmalate dehydratase


3-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase


3-isopropylmalate isomerase




adenosine diphosphate


acetohydroxyacid synthase






acetolactate synthase


adenosine monophosphate


adenosine triphosphate


branched-chain amino acid


branched-chain aminotransferase


chlorimuron ethyl


coenzyme A




catalytic subunit


dihydroxyacid dehydratase


ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


flavin adenine dinucleotide


reduced FAD


hydroxyethyl-ThDP (carbanion)

Hoe 704

2-dimethylphosphinoyl-2-hydroxyacetic acid










ketol-acid reductoisomerase




metsulfuron methyl


oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (phosphate)


reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (phosphate)


O-isobutenyl oxalylhydroxamate


(R)-phenylacetyl carbinol


Protein Databank


pyruvate decarboxylase


pyruvate oxidase


regulatory subunit


sulfometuron methyl




tribenuron methyl


threonine deaminase


thiamin diphosphate




thiamin thiazolone diphosphate


µmol product produced per minute per mg


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. McCourt
    • 1
  • R. G. Duggleby
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Molecular and Microbial Sciences, University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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