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Am J Hum Genet. 1987 Mar; 40(3): 257–266.
PMCID: PMC1684096

Deficient fumarase activity in an infant with fumaricacidemia and its distribution between the different forms of the enzyme seen on isoelectric focusing.


A male infant, whose parents were first cousins, presented at 6 mo of age with hypotonia, microcephaly, and delayed development. He was found to have large amounts of fumaric and succinic acids present in the urine. In lysed cultured skin-fibroblast preparations, the activity of fumarase was found to be 22.7% of that in controls. Cell fractionation by homogenization and by digitonin treatment indicated that the residual activity in the cells of the patient was primarily located in the mitochondrial fraction rather than in the cytosolic fraction. Isoelectric focusing of fibroblast extracts showed that six bands of fumarase activity were discernible in control cell lines, two of them cytosolic with pI's of 5.53 and 5.60 and four of them mitochondrial with a pI of 5.65-6.8. In contrast, isoelectric focusing of fibroblast extracts from the fumarase-deficient patient showed only a single band of activity with a pI corresponding to the mitochondrial type seen in the controls. Immunoprecipitation of proteins with rabbit antifumarase antibody in (35S)-methionine-labeled fibroblasts indicated that a protein of correct size (Mr = 44,000 daltons) corresponding to fumarase was synthesized in similar amounts in both the patients and controls. It is proposed that in the patient's cells a single active species of fumarase that is mitochondrial in location is synthesized. Since it is known that mitochondrial and cytosolic fumarases are encoded by the same gene but differ slightly in amino acid sequence, it is possible that a point mutation might explain these findings.

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Selected References

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