Purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) deficiency is associated with a severe defect in thymus-derived (T)-lymphocyte function combined with normal bone marrow-derived (B)-lymphocyte function. To investigate the role of this enzyme deficiency in the resulting immune dysfunction, we measured the levels of ribonucleoside and deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates in erythrocytes from two unrelated PNP-deficient, T-lymphocyte-deficient patients. Both PNP-deficient patients have abnormally high levels of deoxyguanosine triphosphate (deoxy-GTP) in their erythrocytes (5 and 8 nmol/ml packed erythrocytes). In contrast, normal controls and adenosine deaminase-deficient, immunodeficient patients do not have detectable amounts of deoxyGTP (<0.5 nmol/ml packed erythrocytes). We propose that deoxyguanosine, a substrate of PNP, is the potentially lymphotoxic metabolite in PNP deficiency. The mechanism of toxicity involves phosphorylation of deoxyguanosine to deoxyGTP, which acts as a potent inhibitor of mammalian ribonucleotide reductase.
Amos Cohen, Lorraine J. Gudas, Arthur J. Ammann, Gerard E. J. Staal, David W. Martin Jr.