In vitro expression of 34 naturally occurring mutant variants of phenylalanine hydroxylase: Correlation with metabolic phenotypes and susceptibility toward protein aggregation

Torben Gjetting, Marie Petersen, Per Guldberg, Flemming Güttler

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) is a homotetrameric enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine, the rate-limiting step of phenylalanine disposal in humans. Primary dysfunction of PAH caused by mutations in the PAH gene results in hyperphenylalaninemia, which may impair cognitive development unless corrected by dietary restriction of phenylalanine. The mechanism(s) by which PAH missense mutations cause enzyme impairment has been studied in detail only in a small number of cases, but existing evidence points to a major role of enhanced proteolytic degradation due to aberrant folding of mutant polypeptides. We have used two heterologous in vitro expression systems (a mammalian cell-free transcription-translation system and the pET system of Escherichia coli) to examine 34 mutations that have been associated with PAH deficiency in the Danish population. These mutations represent a broad range of amino acid substitutions, functional enzyme domains, and metabolic phenotypes. In both systems, residual in vitro activities correlated broadly with metabolic phenotypes, however, with significant discrepancies. Analysis of E. coli extracts by nondenaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and storage experiments showed that (i) in general, mutations in the N-terminal regulatory domain are associated with relatively stable proteins compared to most mutations in the central catalytic domain, and (ii) for mutations in the catalytic domain, high levels of protein aggregation do not always correspond with a severe phenotype. Our data support and extend previous evidence that PAH mutations exert their pathogenic effects by several distinct mechanisms that may operate individually or in concert. (C) 2001 Academic Press.
Keyword: phenylalanine hydroxylase,genotype-phenotype correlations,in vitro expression,protein aggregation,phenylketonuria
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Volume72
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)132-143
ISSN1096-7192
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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