Phenylketonuria in Portugal: Genotype-phenotype correlations using molecular, biochemical, and haplotypic analyses

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2021 Mar;9(3):e1559. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.1559. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Background: The impairment of the hepatic enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) causes elevation of phenylalanine levels in blood and other body fluids resulting in the most common inborn error of amino acid metabolism (phenylketonuria). Persistently high levels of phenylalanine lead to irreversible damage to the nervous system. Therefore, early diagnosis of the affected individuals is important, as it can prevent clinical manifestations of the disease.

Methods: In this report, the biochemical and genetic findings performed in 223 patients diagnosed through the Portuguese Neonatal Screening Program (PNSP) are presented.

Results: Overall, the results show that a high overlap exists between different types of variants and phenylalanine levels. Molecular analyses reveal a wide mutational spectrum in our population with a total of 56 previously reported variants, most of them found in compound heterozygosity (74% of the patients). Intragenic polymorphic markers were used to assess the haplotypic structure of mutated chromosomes for the most frequent variants found in homozygosity in our population (p.Ile65Thr, p.Arg158Gln, p.Leu249Phe, p.Arg261Gln, p.Val388Met, and c.1066-11G>A).

Conclusion: Our data reveal high heterogeneity at the biochemical and molecular levels and are expected to provide a better understanding of the molecular basis of this disease and to provide clues to elucidate genotype-phenotype correlations.

Keywords: Portuguese population; biochemical and genetic findings; haplotypic study; mutation spectrum; phenylketonuria.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Haplotypes
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Neonatal Screening
  • Phenotype*
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / genetics*
  • Phenylketonurias / epidemiology
  • Phenylketonurias / genetics*
  • Portugal


  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase