Compound heterozygosity in nonphenylketonuria hyperphenylalanemia: The contribution of mutations for classical phenylketonuria

S. Avigad, S. Kleiman, M. Weinstein, B. E. Cohen, G. Schwartz, S. L.C. Woo, Y. Shiloh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) results from defective hydroxylation of phenylalanine in the liver, in most cases because of defective phenylalanine hydroxylase. HPA is highly variable, ranging from moderate elevation of plasma phenylalanine with no clinical consequences to a severe disease, classical phenylketonuria (PKU). Non-PKU HPA was found in excess of PKU in Israel, while the opposite is true in Europe. To study the genetic basis of non-PKU HPA, we performed haplotype analysis at the phenylalanine hydroxylase locus in 27 families with non-PKU HPA. All individuals with this condition were compound heterozygotes. In six of these families, in which both PKU and non-PKU HPA were segregating, haplotype analysis showed that non-PKU HPA resulted from compound heterozygosity for a PKU mutation and a second mutation, with milder effect, which is probably expressed only when it interacts with the severe mutation. The involvement of PKU mutations in non-PKU HPA was further demonstrated in Jewish Yemenite families with non-PKU HPA, in which the individuals with this condition were carriers of the single PKU allele which exists in this community. In addition, two previously known PKU point mutations (R261Q and R408W) were found in individuals with non-PKU HPA. These mutations are associated, in our population, with the same haplotypes as those with which it is associated in Europe. Based on the above-mentioned genetic model for non-PKU HPA, successful prenatal diagnosis of this condition was performed in one family. Another practical implication of these results is the use of molecular analysis in distinguishing between PKU and non-PKU HPA in the early postnatal period, when these two conditions are not readily differentiated on the basis of plasma phenylalanine levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1991


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