Methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT) is a key enzyme in transmethylation, transsulfuration, and the biosynthesis of polyamines. Genetic deficiency of alpha/beta-MAT causes isolated persistent hypermethioninemia and, in some cases, unusual breath odor or neural demyelination. However, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying this deficiency has not been clearly defined. In this study, we characterized the human alpha/beta-MAT transcription unit and identified several mutations in the gene of patients with enzymatically confirmed diagnosis of MAT deficiency. Site-directed mutagenesis and transient expression assays demonstrated that these mutations partially inactivate MAT activity. These results establish the molecular basis of this disorder and allow for the development of DNA-based methodologies to investigate and diagnose hypermethioninemic individuals suspected of having abnormalities at this locus.
T Ubagai, K J Lei, S Huang, S H Mudd, H L Levy, J Y Chou