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J Clin Invest. 1989 Mar;83(3):897-903.

Molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis in humans. Identification of two complementation groups of cofactor-deficient patients and preliminary characterization of a diffusible molybdopterin precursor.

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Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


Molybdenum cofactor deficiency is a devastating disease with affected patients displaying the symptoms of a combined deficiency of sulfite oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase. Because of the extreme lability of the isolated, functional molybdenum cofactor, direct cofactor replacement therapy is not feasible, and a search for stable biosynthetic intermediates was undertaken. From studies of cocultured fibroblasts from affected individuals, two complementation groups were identified. Coculture of group A and group B cells, without heterokaryon formation, led to the appearance of active sulfite oxidase. Use of conditioned media indicated that a relatively stable, diffusible precursor produced by group B cells could be used to repair sulfite oxidase in group A recipient cells. Although the extremely low levels of precursor produced by group B cells preclude its direct characterization, studies with a heterologous, in vitro reconstitution system suggest that the precursor that accumulates in group B cells is the same as a molybdopterin precursor identified in the Neurospora crassa molybdopterin mutant nit-1, and that a converting enzyme is present in group A cells which catalyzes an activation reaction analogous to that of a converting enzyme identified in the Escherichia coli molybdopterin mutant ChlA1.

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