Three novel variants (p.Glu178Lys, p.Val245Met, p.Ser250Phe) of the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) gene impair protein expression and function in vitro

Gene. 2018 Aug 20:668:135-139. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2018.03.078. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Phenylketonuria (PKU) is the most common inherited metabolic disease, an autosomal recessive disorder affecting >10,000 newborns each year globally. It can be caused by over 1000 different naturally occurring mutations in the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) gene. We analyzed three novel naturally occurring PAH gene variants: p.Glu178Lys (c.532G>A), p.Val245Met (c.733G>A) and p.Ser250Phe (c.749C>T). The mutant effect on the PAH enzyme structure and function was predicted by bioinformatics software. Vectors expressing the corresponding PAH variants were generated for expression in E. coli and in HEK293T cells. The RNA expression of the three PAH variants was measured by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The mutant PAH protein levels were determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), western blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). All three variants were predicted to be pathogenic by bioinformatics analysis. The transcription of the three PAH variants was similar to the wild type PAH gene in HEK293T cells. In contrast, the levels of mutant PAH proteins decreased significantly compared to the wild type control, in both E. coli and HEK293T cells. Our results indicate that the three novel PAH gene variants (p.Glu178Lys, p.Val245Met, p.Ser250Phe) impair PAH protein expression and function in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Keywords: Gene variants; Pathogenic mutations; Phenylketonuria; Site-directed mutagenesis; in vitro expression.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computational Biology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / chemistry
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / genetics*
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase