Conditional disruption of hepatic carbamoyl phosphate synthetase 1 in mice results in hyperammonemia without orotic aciduria and can be corrected by liver-directed gene therapy

Mol Genet Metab. 2018 Aug;124(4):243-253. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2018.04.001. Epub 2018 Apr 12.


Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase 1 (CPS1) is a urea cycle enzyme that forms carbamoyl phosphate from bicarbonate, ammonia and ATP. Bi-allelic mutations of the CPS1 gene result in a urea cycle disorder presenting with hyperammonemia, often with reduced citrulline, and without orotic aciduria. CPS1 deficiency is particularly challenging to treat and lack of early recognition typically results in early neonatal death. Therapeutic interventions have limited efficacy and most patients develop long-term neurologic sequelae. Using transgenic techniques, we generated a conditional Cps1 knockout mouse. By loxP/Cre recombinase technology, deletion of the Cps1 locus was achieved in adult transgenic animals using a Cre recombinase-expressing adeno-associated viral vector. Within four weeks from vector injection, all animals developed hyperammonemia without orotic aciduria and died. Minimal CPS1 protein was detectable in livers. To investigate the efficacy of gene therapy for CPS deficiency following knock-down of hepatic endogenous CPS1 expression, we injected these mice with a helper-dependent adenoviral vector (HDAd) expressing the large murine CPS1 cDNA under control of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase promoter. Liver-directed HDAd-mediated gene therapy resulted in survival, normalization of plasma ammonia and glutamine, and 13% of normal Cps1 expression. A gender difference in survival suggests that female mice may require higher hepatic CPS1 expression. We conclude that this conditional murine model recapitulates the clinical and biochemical phenotype detected in human patients with CPS1 deficiency and will be useful to investigate ammonia-mediated neurotoxicity and for the development of cell- and gene-based therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Carbamoyl phosphate; Gene therapy; synthetase deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase (Ammonia) / genetics*
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase (Ammonia) / therapeutic use
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase I Deficiency Disease / genetics
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase I Deficiency Disease / metabolism
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase I Deficiency Disease / pathology
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase I Deficiency Disease / therapy*
  • Carbamyl Phosphate / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperammonemia / genetics
  • Hyperammonemia / metabolism
  • Hyperammonemia / pathology
  • Hyperammonemia / therapy*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Orotate Phosphoribosyltransferase / deficiency
  • Orotate Phosphoribosyltransferase / genetics
  • Orotidine-5'-Phosphate Decarboxylase / deficiency
  • Orotidine-5'-Phosphate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Purine-Pyrimidine Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Purine-Pyrimidine Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology


  • Glutamine
  • Carbamyl Phosphate
  • Ammonia
  • Orotate Phosphoribosyltransferase
  • Orotidine-5'-Phosphate Decarboxylase
  • Carbamoyl-Phosphate Synthase (Ammonia)

Supplementary concepts

  • Oroticaciduria 1