The enzyme 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid dioxygenase (HPD) catalyzes the reaction of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid to homogentisic acid in the tyrosine catabolism pathway. A deficiency in the catalytic activity of HPD may lead to tyrosinemia type III, an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by elevated levels of blood tyrosine and massive excretion of tyrosine derivatives into urine. It has been postulated that hawkinsinuria, an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by the excretion of 'hawkinsin,' may also be a result of HPD deficiency. Hawkinsin is a sulfur amino acid identified as (2-l-cystein-S-yl, 4-dihydroxycyclohex-5-en-1-yl)acetic acid. Patients with hawkinsinuria excrete this metabolite in their urine throughout their life, although symptoms of metabolic acidosis and tyrosinemia improve in the first year of life. We performed analyses of the HPD gene in a patient with tyrosinemia type III and two unrelated patients with hawkinsinuria. A homozygous missense mutation predicting an Ala to Val change at codon 268 (A268V) in the HPD gene was found in the patient with tyrosinemia type III. A heterozygous missense mutation predicting an Ala to Thr change at codon 33 (A33T) was found in the same HPD gene in the two patients with hawkinsinuria. These findings support the hypothesis that alterations in the structure and activity of HPD are causally related to two different metabolic disorders, tyrosinemia type III and hawkinsinuria.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.