A phenylalanine hydroxylase amino acid polymorphism with implications for molecular diagnostics

Torben Gjetting, Anne Romstad, Jan Haavik, Per M. Knappskog, Angelina X. Acosta, W. Araújo Silva Jr., Marco A. Zago, Per Guldberg, Flemming Guttler

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Mutations in the gene encoding phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH, EC are associated with various degrees of hyperphenylalaninemia, including classical phenylketonuria (PKU). We examined the PAM gene in a Brazilian PKU family of African origin and identified three missense variants, R252W (c.754C --> T), K274E (c.820A --> G), and I318T (c.953T --> C), the two latter of which were transmitted in cis. Expression analyses in two different in vitro systems showed that I318T is associated with profoundly decreased enzyme activity, whereas the enzyme activity of K274E is indistinguishable from that of the wild-type protein. Detailed kinetic analyses of PAH expressed in E. coli showed that the K274E mutant protein has kinetic properties similar to that of the wild-type protein. Population studies have suggested that the K274E variant occurs on approximately 4% of African-American PAH alleles, whereas the neonatal screening incidence of PKU among African Americans is only 1:100,000. This is to our knowledge the first demonstration of a PAH missense variant with no apparent association to PAH deficiency. Awareness of this common variant may be helpful to laboratories that perform molecular diagnosis of PAH deficiency in populations of African origin. (C) 2001 Academic Press.
Keyword: phenylalanine hydroxylase,in vitro expression,phenylketonuria,amino acid polymorphism
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)280-284
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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