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Am J Hum Genet. 1993 Sep;53(3):768-74.

Mutation in the 4a-carbinolamine dehydratase gene leads to mild hyperphenylalaninemia with defective cofactor metabolism.

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Laboratory of Neurochemistry, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Hyperphenylalaninemias represent a major class of inherited metabolic disorders. They are most often caused by mutations in the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene and, less frequently but with usually more serious consequences, in genes necessary for the synthesis and regeneration of the cofactor, tetrahydrobiopterin. This cofactor is absolutely required for all aromatic amino acid hydroxylations, and, recently, nitric oxide production from L-arginine has also been found to be dependent on tetrahydrobiopterin. Phenylalanine hydroxylase catalyzes a coupled reaction in which phenylalanine is converted to tyrosine and in which tetrahydrobiopterin is converted to the unstable carbinolamine, 4a-hydroxytetrahydrobiopterin. The enzyme, carbinolamine dehydratase, catalyzes the dehydration of the carbinolamine to quinonoid dihydropterin. A decreased rate of dehydration of this compound has been hypothesized to be responsible for the production of 7-biopterin found in certain mildly hyperphenylalaninemic individuals. We have now identified nonsense and missense mutations in the 4a-carbinolamine dehydratase gene in a hyperphenylalaninemic child who excretes large amounts of 7-biopterin. This finding is consistent with the role of the carbinolamine dehydratase in the phenylalanine hydroxylation reaction. Together with previously identified inherited disorders in phenylalanine hydroxylase and dihydropteridine reductase, there are now identified mutations in the three enzymes involved in the phenylalanine hydroxylation system. In addition, the genetics of this system may have broader implications, since the product of the dehydratase gene has previously been shown to play an additional role (as dimerization cofactor for hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha) in the regulation of transcription, through interaction with hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha.

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