Serine biosynthesis and transport defects

Mol Genet Metab. 2016 Jul;118(3):153-159. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2016.04.010. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


l-serine is a non-essential amino acid that is biosynthesized via the enzymes phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PGDH), phosphoserine aminotransferase (PSAT), and phosphoserine phosphatase (PSP). Besides its role in protein synthesis, l-serine is a potent neurotrophic factor and a precursor of a number of essential compounds including phosphatidylserine, sphingomyelin, glycine, and d-serine. Serine biosynthesis defects result from impairments of PGDH, PSAT, or PSP leading to systemic serine deficiency. Serine biosynthesis defects present in a broad phenotypic spectrum that includes, at the severe end, Neu-Laxova syndrome, a lethal multiple congenital anomaly disease, intermediately, infantile serine biosynthesis defects with severe neurological manifestations and growth deficiency, and at the mild end, the childhood disease with intellectual disability. A serine transport defect resulting from deficiency of the ASCT1, the main transporter for serine in the central nervous system, has been recently described in children with neurological manifestations that overlap with those observed in serine biosynthesis defects. l-serine therapy may be beneficial in preventing or ameliorating symptoms in serine biosynthesis and transport defects, if started before neurological damage occurs. Herein, we review serine metabolism and transport, the clinical, biochemical, and molecular aspects of serine biosynthesis and transport defects, the mechanisms of these diseases, and the potential role of serine therapy.

Keywords: ASCT1; Neu–Laxova syndrome; Phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PGDH); Phosphoserine aminotransferase (PSAT); Phosphoserine phosphatase (PSP); SLC1A4 gene; Serine transporter.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Transport System ASC / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ichthyosis / metabolism*
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital / metabolism*
  • Microcephaly / metabolism*
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Serine / biosynthesis*
  • Serine / deficiency


  • Amino Acid Transport System ASC
  • SLC1A4 protein, human
  • Serine

Supplementary concepts

  • Neu Laxova syndrome