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Am J Hum Genet. 1996 Apr;58(4):712-21.

Uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase: complete human gene sequence and molecular study of three families with hepatoerythropoietic porphyria.

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Département de Biochimie Médicale et Biologie Moléculaire, UPR-ES Pathologie Moléculaire et Thérapie Génique, Université de Bordeaux,France.


A deficiency in uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (UROD) enzyme activity, the fifth enzyme of the heme biosynthetic pathway, is found in patients with sporadic porphyria cutanea tarda (s-PCT), familial porphyria cutanea tarda (f-PCT), and hepatoerythropoietic porphyria (HEP). Subnormal UROD activity is due to mutations of the UROD gene in both f-PCT and HEP, but no mutations have been found in s-PCT. Genetic analysis has determined that f-PCT is transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait. In contrast, HEP, a severe form of cutaneous porphyria, is transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait. HEP is characterized by a profound deficiency of UROD activity, and the disease is usually manifest in childhood. In this study, a strategy was designed to identify alleles responsible for the HEP phenotype in three unrelated families. Mutations of UROD were identified by direct sequencing of four amplified fragments that contained the entire coding sequence of the UROD gene. Two new missense mutations were observed at the homoallelic state: P62L (proline-to-leucine substitution at codon 62) in a Portuguese family and Y311C (tyrosine-to-cysteine substitution at codon 311) in an Italian family. A third mutation, G281E, was observed in a Spanish family. This mutation has been previously described in three families from Spain and one from Tunisia. In the Spanish family described in this report, a paternal uncle of the proband developed clinically overt PCT as an adult and proved to be heterozygous for the G281E mutation. Mutant cDNAs corresponding to the P62L and Y311C changes detected in these families were created by site-directed mutagenesis. Recombinant proteins proved to have subnormal enzyme activity, and the Y311C mutant was thermolabile.

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