Isocitrate lyase (ICL) catalyzes the reversible retro-aldol cleavage of isocitrate to generate glyoxylate and succinate. ICL is the first enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, which allows for the anaplerosis of citric acid cycle intermediates under nutrient limiting conditions. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the source of ICL for these studies, ICL is vital for the persistence phase of the bacterium's life cycle. Solvent kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) in the direction of isocitrate cleavage (D2OV = 2.0 ± 0.1, and D 2O[V/Kisocitrate] = 2.2 ± 0.3) arise from the initial deprotonation of the C2 hydroxyl group of isocitrate or the protonation of the aci-acid of the succinate product of the isocitrate aldol cleavage by a solvent-derived proton. This KIE suggested that an equilibrium mixture of all protiated isocitrate, glyoxylate, and succinate prepared in D2O would undergo transient changes in equilibrium concentrations as a result of the solvent KIE and solvent-derived deuterium incorporation into both succinate and isocitrate. No change in the isotopic composition of glyoxylate was expected or observed. We have directly monitored the changing concentrations of all isotopic species of all reactants and products using a combination of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Continuous monitoring of glyoxylate by 1H NMR spectroscopy shows a clear equilibrium perturbation in D2O. The final equilibrium isotopic composition of reactants in D2O revealed dideuterated succinate, protiated glyoxylate, and monodeuterated isocitrate, with the transient appearance and disappearance of monodeuterated succinate. A model for the equilibrium perturbation of substrate species and their time-dependent isotopic composition is presented.
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