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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Apr 15;21(8):1877-87. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds001. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Novel pharmacological chaperones that correct phenylketonuria in mice.

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Sections of Biochemical and Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, Innsbruck Medical University, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


Phenylketonuria (PKU) is caused by inherited phenylalanine-hydroxylase (PAH) deficiency and, in many genotypes, it is associated with protein misfolding. The natural cofactor of PAH, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH(4)), can act as a pharmacological chaperone (PC) that rescues enzyme function. However, BH(4) shows limited efficacy in some PKU genotypes and its chemical synthesis is very costly. Taking an integrated drug discovery approach which has not been applied to this target before, we identified alternative PCs for the treatment of PKU. Shape-focused virtual screening of the National Cancer Institute's chemical library identified 84 candidate molecules with potential to bind to the active site of PAH. An in vitro evaluation of these yielded six compounds that restored the enzymatic activity of the unstable PAHV106A variant and increased its stability in cell-based assays against proteolytic degradation. During a 3-day treatment study, two compounds (benzylhydantoin and 6-amino-5-(benzylamino)-uracil) substantially improved the in vivo Phe oxidation and blood Phe concentrations of PKU mice (Pah(enu1)). Notably, benzylhydantoin was twice as effective as tetrahydrobiopterin. In conclusion, we identified two PCs with high in vivo efficacy that may be further developed into a more effective drug treatment of PKU.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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