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J Inherit Metab Dis. 2008 Feb;31(1):97-107. doi: 10.1007/s10545-007-0786-5. Epub 2008 Jan 22.

A yeast model reveals biochemical severity associated with each of three variant alleles of galactose-1P uridylyltransferase segregating in a single family.

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Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Classic galactosaemia is a potentially lethal inborn error of metabolism that results from profound impairment of galactose-1P uridylyltransferase (GALT). Like many autosomal recessive disorders, classic galactosaemia demonstrates marked allelic heterogeneity; many if not most patients are compound heterozygotes. Owing in part to the fact that most GALT mutations are never observed in patients in the homozygous state, in part to concerns of possible allelic interaction, and in part to the broad range of GALT activity levels associated with the affected, carrier, and control states, definition of the specific functional consequence of individual variant GALT alleles from studies of clinical samples alone can be a challenging task. To overcome this problem we previously developed and applied a null-background yeast system to enable functional analyses of human GALT alleles expressed individually or in defined pairs. We report here the application of this system to characterize three distinct variant alleles of GALT identified within a single family. Of these alleles, one carried a missense mutation (K285N) that has previously been reported and characterized, one carried a nonsense mutation (R204X) that has previously been reported but not characterized, and the third carried a missense substitution (T268N) that was novel. Our studies reported here reconfirm the profound nature of the K285N mutation, demonstrate that the R204X mutation severely compromises both expression and function of human GALT, and finally implicate T268N as one of a very small number of naturally occurring rare but neutral missense polymorphisms in human GALT.

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