The fundamental importance of human galactose metabolism: lessons from genetics and biochemistry

Trends Genet. 1998 Mar;14(3):98-102. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(97)01379-6.


Cloning and characterization of all three human galactose-metabolic genes (GALK, GALT and GALE) has led to the identification of a number of mutations which are generally of the missense type in patients with galactosemia, an inborn error of metabolism. The predominance of missense mutations is interesting, considering the general importance of galactose metabolism for cellular energy production and proper modification of glycoproteins and glycolipids. Abnormalities in both of these macromolecules have been described in transferase-deficiency galactosemia, the most common and best-studied form of galactosemia. Thus, the parallel biochemical and molecular genetic analyses of human galactose metabolism are shedding light on this under-appreciated metabolic pathway that is critical for cellular energy production, modification of cellular macromolecules and normal human development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / chemistry
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Galactose / metabolism*
  • Galactosemias / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Ovarian Diseases / genetics
  • Ovarian Diseases / metabolism
  • UDPglucose 4-Epimerase / genetics*
  • UDPglucose 4-Epimerase / metabolism
  • UTP-Hexose-1-Phosphate Uridylyltransferase / genetics*
  • UTP-Hexose-1-Phosphate Uridylyltransferase / metabolism


  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • UTP-Hexose-1-Phosphate Uridylyltransferase
  • UDPglucose 4-Epimerase
  • Galactose