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Am J Hum Genet. 1988 Jul;43(1):86-94.

Analysis of UMP synthase gene and mRNA structure in hereditary orotic aciduria fibroblasts.

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  • 1Division of Biochemical and Clinical Pharmacology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38101.


Hereditary orotic aciduria is an autosomal recessive disease in which there is a severe deficiency in the activity of the de novo pyrimidine pathway enzyme uridine 5'-monophosphate (UMP) synthase. UMP synthase is a bifunctional enzyme containing the two activities orotate phosphoribosyltransferase and orotidine 5'-monophosphate decarboxylase, which catalyze the two-step conversion of orotic acid to UMP. Cell lines from three orotic aciduria patients have been characterized for UMP synthase gene and mRNA content. Restriction-enzyme analysis of DNA from the deficient cells revealed no changes in the gene structure compared with normal cell DNA structure. The amount of UMP synthase mRNA was not decreased, nor was there a detectable difference in the size of the UMP synthase mRNA in the deficient cells. Analysis of the mRNA by hybridization with a nearly full-length UMP synthase cDNA followed by S1 nuclease digestion showed no alteration in the mRNA structure. The UMP synthase activity of the deficient cells ranges from 2% to 7% of the normal cell level. The activity can be significantly increased by growing the deficient cells in barbituric acid. Our data indicate that UMP synthase gene transcription in the orotic aciduria cells produces the expected amount of a stable, correctly processed mRNA. The mRNA appears to code for a mutant enzyme that has reduced stability or altered kinetic properties.

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