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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of two mutations associated with epimerase-deficiency galactosemia, by use of a yeast expression system for human UDP-galactose-4-epimerase.

UDP-galactose-4-epimerase (GALE) is a highly conserved enzyme that catalyzes the interconversion of UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose. Impairment of this enzyme in humans results in one of two clinically distinct forms of epimerase-deficiency galactosemia-one benign, the other severe. The molecular and biochemical distinction between these disorders remains unknown. To enable structural and functional studies of both wild-type and patient-derived alleles of human GALE (hGALE), we have developed and applied a null-background yeast expression system for the human enzyme. We have demonstrated that wild-type hGALE sequences phenotypically complement a yeast gal10 deletion, and we have biochemically characterized the wild-type human enzyme isolated from these cells. Furthermore, we have expressed and characterized two mutant alleles, L183P-hGALE and N34S-hGALE, both derived from a patient with no detectable GALE activity in red blood cells but with approximately 14% activity in cultured lymphoblasts. Analyses of crude extracts of yeast expressing L183P-hGALE demonstrated 4% wild-type activity and 6% wild-type abundance. Extracts of yeast expressing N34S-hGALE demonstrated approximately 70% wild-type activity and normal abundance. However, yeast coexpressing both L183P-hGALE and N34S-hGALE exhibited only approximately 7% wild-type levels of activity, thereby confirming the functional impact of both substitutions and raising the intriguing possibility that some form of dominant-negative interaction may exist between the mutant alleles found in this patient. The results reported here establish the utility of the yeast-based hGALE-expression system and set the stage for more-detailed studies of this important enzyme and its role in epimerase-deficiency galactosemia.[1]


  1. Characterization of two mutations associated with epimerase-deficiency galactosemia, by use of a yeast expression system for human UDP-galactose-4-epimerase. Quimby, B.B., Alano, A., Almashanu, S., DeSandro, A.M., Cowan, T.M., Fridovich-Keil, J.L. Am. J. Hum. Genet. (1997) [Pubmed]
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