Surrogate Genetics and Metabolic Profiling for Characterization of Human Disease Alleles
Jacob A. Mayfield, Meara W. Davies, Dago Dimster-Denk, Nick Pleskac, Sean McCarthy, Elizabeth A. Boydston, Logan Fink, Xin Xin Lin, Ankur S. Narain, Michael Meighan, Jasper Rine

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Cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) deficiency is a human genetic disease causing homocystinuria, thrombosis, mental retardation, and a suite of other devastating manifestations. Early detection coupled with dietary modification greatly reduces pathology, but the response to treatment differs with the allele of CBS. A better understanding of the relationship between allelic variants and protein function will improve both diagnosis and treatment. To this end, we tested the function of 84 CBS alleles previously sequenced from patients with homocystinuria by ortholog replacement in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Within this clinically associated set, 15% of variant alleles were indistinguishable from the predominant CBS allele in function, suggesting enzymatic activity was retained. An additional 37% of the alleles were partially functional or could be rescued by cofactor supplementation in the growth medium. This large class included alleles rescued by elevated levels of the cofactor vitamin B6, but also alleles rescued by elevated heme, a second CBS cofactor. Measurement of the metabolite levels in CBS-substituted yeast grown with different B6 levels using LC–MS revealed changes in metabolism that propagated beyond the substrate and product of CBS. Production of the critical antioxidant glutathione through the CBS pathway was greatly decreased when CBS function was restricted through genetic, cofactor, or substrate restriction, a metabolic consequence with implications for treatment.

  • Received December 5, 2011.
  • Accepted January 9, 2012.
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