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Biochemistry. 2001 Dec 25;40(51):15581-90.

Mechanisms for intragenic complementation at the human argininosuccinate lyase locus.

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  • 1Structural Biology and Biochemistry, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, M5G 1X8, Ontario, Canada.


Argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) is a homotetrameric enzyme that catalyzes the reversible cleavage of argininosuccinate to arginine and fumarate. Deficiencies in the enzyme result in the autosomal, recessive disorder argininosuccinic aciduria. Considerable clinical and genetic heterogeneity is associated with this disorder, which is thought to be a consequence of the extensive intragenic complementation identified in patient strains. Our ability to predict genotype-phenotype relationships is hampered by the current lack of understanding of the mechanisms by which complementation can occur. The 3-dimensional structure of wild-type ASL has enabled us to propose that the complementation between two ASL active site mutant subunits, Q286R and D87G, occurs through a regeneration of functional active sites in the heteromutant protein. We have reconstructed this complementation event, both in vivo and in vitro, using recombinant proteins and have confirmed this hypothesis. The complementation events between Q286R and two nonactive site mutants, M360T and A398D, have also been characterized. The M360T and A398D substitutions have adverse effects on the thermodynamic stability of the protein. Complementation between either the M360T or the A398D mutant and the stable Q286R mutant occurs through the formation of a more stable heteromeric protein with partial recovery of catalytic activity. The detection and characterization of a novel complementation event between the A398D and D87G mutants has shown how complementation in patients with argininosuccinic aciduria may correlate with the clinical phenotype.

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