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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Sep 26;97(20):11014-9.

Cerebral protein synthesis in a genetic mouse model of phenylketonuria.

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Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism, National Institute of Mental Health, United States Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20892-4030, USA.


Local rates of cerebral protein synthesis (lCPS(leu)) were measured with the quantitative autoradiographic [1-(14)C]leucine method in a genetic mouse model (Pah(enu2)) of phenylketonuria. As in the human disease, Pah(enu2) mice have a mutation in the gene for phenylalanine hydroxylase. We compared adult homozygous (HMZ) and heterozygous (HTZ) Pah(enu2) mice with the background strain (BTBR). Arterial plasma concentrations of phenylalanine (Phe) were elevated in both HMZ and HTZ mutants by 21 times and 38%, respectively. In the total acid-soluble pool in brain concentrations of Phe were higher and other neutral amino acids lower in HMZ mice compared with either HTZ or BTBR mice indicating a partial saturation of the l-amino acid carrier at the blood brain barrier by the elevated plasma Phe concentrations. In a series of steady-state experiments, the contribution of leucine from the arterial plasma to the tRNA-bound pool in brain was found to be statistically significantly reduced in HMZ mice compared with the other groups, indicating that a greater fraction of leucine in the precursor pool for protein synthesis is derived from protein degradation. We found reductions in lCPS(leu) of about 20% throughout the brain in the HMZ mice compared with the other two groups, but no reductions in brain concentrations of tRNA-bound neutral amino acids. Our results in the mouse model suggest that in untreated phenylketonuria in adults, the partial saturation of the l-amino acid transporter at the blood-brain barrier may not underlie a reduction in cerebral protein synthesis.

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