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J Biol Chem. 1992 Feb 15;267(5):3302-7.

Ornithine delta-aminotransferase mutations in gyrate atrophy. Allelic heterogeneity and functional consequences.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


Ornithine delta-aminotransferase is a nuclear-encoded mitochondrial matrix enzyme which catalyzes the reversible interconversion of ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate to glutamate semialdehyde and glutamate. Inherited deficiency of ornithine delta-aminotransferase results in ornithine accumulation and a characteristic chorioretinal degeneration, gyrate atrophy of the choroid and retina. We have surveyed the ornithine delta-aminotransferase genes of gyrate atrophy patients for mutations. Using a variety of techniques, we discovered and molecularly characterized 21 newly recognized ornithine delta-aminotransferase alleles. We determined the consequences of these and three previously described mutations on ornithine delta-aminotransferase mRNA, antigen, and enzyme activity in cultured fibroblasts. The majority (20/24) of these alleles produce normal amounts of normally sized ornithine delta-aminotransferase mRNA. By contrast, only 2/24 had normal amounts of ornithine delta-aminotransferase antigen. Reproducing these mutations by site-directed mutagenesis and expressing the mutant ornithine delta-aminotransferase in Chinese hamster ovary cells confirms that several of these mutations inactivate ornithine delta-aminotransferase and cause gyrate atrophy in these patients.

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