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Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Aug;57(2):284-91.

A single amino acid substitution within the mature sequence of ornithine aminotransferase obstructs mitochondrial entry of the precursor.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Fujita Health University, Aichi, Japan.


We describe here evidence of congenital enzyme mistargeting induced not by abnormalities in the signal sequence. We examined the molecular mechanism of hereditary ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) deficiency causing gyrate atrophy of the choroid and retina (GACR). Nucleotide sequencing of OAT cDNA generated from a GACR patient's mRNA revealed a single base change from C to G at position 268, resulting in an amino acid substitution of neutral Gln(CAA) with negatively charged Glu(GAA) at position 90 (Q90E). Immunohistochemical and transient expression analyses suggested expression of a defective labile OAT in the patient's tissues. However, high-level expression and immunocytochemical analyses elucidated that Q90E OAT (the patient's OAT) was localized within the limits of cytoplasmic free ribosomes in precursor form without any mitochondrial entry, indicating that the patient's precursor OAT was synthesized and rapidly degraded because of accumulation in the cytosol. It is interesting that, although the mutation site (Q90E) in this GACR patient's OAT was within the coding sequence of the mature protein, the precursor exhibited loss of mitochondrial targeting function. These findings suggest that not only the signal sequence but a critical part of the mature sequence plays an essential role in mitochondrial entry of the OAT precursor protein.

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