Four naturally occurring variants of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme (ADH; EC 126.96.36.199) from Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans, with different primary structures, have been subjected to kinetic studies of ethanol oxidation at five temperatures. Two amino acid replacements in the N-terminal region which distinguish the ADH of D. simulans from the three ADH allozymes of D. melanogaster generate a significantly different activation enthalpy and entropy, and Gibbs free energy change. The one or two amino acid replacements in the C-terminal region between the ADH allozymes of D. melanogaster do not have such clear-cut effects. All four ADH variants show highly negative activation entropies. Sarcosine oxidation by the ADH-71k variant of D. melanogaster has an activation energy barrier similar to that of ethanol oxidation. Three amino acid differences between the ADH of D. simulans and the ADH-F variant of D. melanogaster influence the kcat and kcat/Kmeth constant by a maximum factor of about 2 and 2.5, respectively, over the whole temperature range. Product inhibition patterns suggest a ‘rapid equilibrium random’ mechanism of ethanol oxidation by the ADH-71k, and the ADH of D. simulans
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