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Am J Hum Genet. 1993 Mar;52(3):598-608.

Molecular basis for the polymorphic forms of human serum paraoxonase/arylesterase: glutamine or arginine at position 191, for the respective A or B allozymes.

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Department of Environmental and Industrial Health, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0572.


The paraoxonase/arylesterase gene is located close to the cystic fibrosis gene on chromosome 7. Human serum contains two paraoxonase/arylesterase allozymes, A and B, which differ in their substrate specificities and kinetic properties. Purified A, AB, and B esterases were digested with trypsin, and the resultant peptides were compared by high-performance liquid chromatography. The elution profiles were very similar for all three samples, except for (1) one peptide (i.e., peptide A) seen only in the A and AB profiles and (2) another peptide (i.e., peptide B) seen only in the B and AB profiles. Sequencing revealed that peptide A had glutamine at amino acid position 191, whereas peptide B was generated by cleavage on the carboxy side of position 191, presumably because there was a basic (trypsin-specific) amino acid at that position. Working independently, our laboratory and one other laboratory have sequenced the coding region for paraoxonase from human liver cDNA libraries and have identified two polymorphic sites: Arg/Gln at position 191 and Leu/Met at position 54. Using PCR amplification and direct sequencing of nucleotides in both polymorphic regions with genomic DNA, we have estimated the allelic frequencies and have determined their concordance with the serum paraoxonase allozyme phenotypes in 27 unrelated adults and in 16 members of a three-generation pedigree. Among unrelated individuals, the Met/Leu polymorphism at position 54 did not correlate with the serum esterase phenotype. In contrast, the particular amino acid at position 191 correlated perfectly with serum phenotypes: A-type individuals had Gln at position 191, and B-type individuals had Arg at position 191; AB-type serum was found only with the heterozygous (Arg/Gln) combination. Pedigree analysis showed both polymorphisms to be inherited in the expected Mendelian manner and confirmed that only the 191 polymorphism showed concordance with the serum paraoxonase/arylesterase phenotypes.

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