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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Apr 1;88(7):2633-7.

Molecular basis of galactosemia: mutations and polymorphisms in the gene encoding human galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Houston, TX.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1991 Aug 15;88(16):7457.


We describe the molecular characterization of two mutations responsible for galactosemia, an inherited disorder of galatose metabolism that causes jaundice, cataracts, and mental retardation in humans. The coding region of galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT; UDPglucose:alpha-D-galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase, EC was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction from total cDNA of a classic galactosemic individual and was characterized by direct sequencing of the products. Two missense mutations were identified: (i) replacement of valine-44 by methionine and (ii) replacement of methionine-142 by lysine. These mutations led to a drastic reduction in GALT activity when individual mutant cDNAs were overexpressed in a mammalian cell system, although full-length protein is synthesized in this assay. The two galactosemia mutations account for 3 of the 15 galactosemia alleles analyzed. These results suggest that galactosemia is caused by a variety of mutations, which might be responsible for the observed clinical heterogeneity of this disorder. We also present the molecular characterization of two GALT polymorphisms: (i) replacement of leucine-62 by methionine and (ii) replacement of asparagine-314 by aspartate. It appears that galactosemia mutations tend to occur in regions that are highly conserved throughout evolution while the polymorphisms change variable residues.

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