© 2016 American Chemical Society.The mechanism of allosteric activation of pyruvate carboxylase by acetyl CoA is not fully understood. Here we have examined the roles of residues near the acetyl CoA binding site in the allosteric activation of Rhizobium etli pyruvate carboxylase using site-directed mutagenesis. Arg429 was found to be especially important for acetyl CoA binding as substitution with serine resulted in a 100-fold increase in the Ka of acetyl CoA activation and a large decrease in the cooperativity of this activation. Asp420 and Arg424, which do not make direct contact with bound acetyl CoA, were nonetheless found to affect acetyl CoA binding when mutated, probably through changed interactions with another acetyl CoA binding residue, Arg427. Thermodynamic activation parameters for the pyruvate carboxylation reaction were determined from modified Arrhenius plots and showed that acetyl CoA acts to decrease the activation free energy of the reaction by both increasing the activation entropy and decreasing the activation enthalpy. Most importantly, mutations of Asp420, Arg424, and Arg429 enhanced the activity of the enzyme in the absence of acetyl CoA. A main focus of this work was the detailed investigation of how this increase in activity occurred in the R424S mutant. This mutation decreased the activation enthalpy of the pyruvate carboxylation reaction by an amount consistent with removal of a single hydrogen bond. It is postulated that Arg424 forms a hydrogen bonding interaction with another residue that stabilizes the asymmetrical conformation of the R. etli pyruvate carboxylase tetramer, constraining its interconversion to the symmetrical conformer that is required for catalysis.