Chelatable Trace Zinc Causes Low, Irreproducible KDAC8 Activity


Department of Chemistry

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Acetylation is an important regulatory mechanism in cells, and emphasis is being placed on identifying substrates and small molecule modulators of this post-translational modification. However, the reported in vitro activity of the lysine deacetylase KDAC8 is inconsistent across experimental setups, even with the same substrate, complicating progress in the field. We detected trace levels of zinc, a known inhibitor of KDAC8 when present in excess, even in high-quality buffer reagents, at concentrations that are sufficient to significantly inhibit the enzyme under common reaction conditions. We hypothesized that trace zinc in solution could account for the observed variability in KDAC8 activity. We demonstrate that addition of chelators, including BSA, EDTA, and citrate, and/or the use of a phosphate-based buffer instead of the more common tris-based buffer, eliminates the inhibition from low levels of zinc as well as the dependence of specific activity on enzyme concentration. This results in high KDAC8 activity that is consistent across buffer systems, even using low concentrations of enzyme. We report conditions that are suitable for several assays to increase both enzyme activity and reproducibility. Our results have significant implications for approaches used to identify substrates and small molecule modulators of KDAC8 and interpretation of existing data.


This article has a delayed release (embargo) and will be available in PMC on January 1, 2019.