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No phenylketonuria in certain plants: PAH gene found to be present in plants as well as animals

Date:
December 14, 2010
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Phenylketonuria is the most common metabolic disease in humans. It occurs when the so-called PAH gene is defective, thus preventing the amino acid phenylalanine from being metabolized to the amino acid tyrosine. This leads to an accumulation of phenylalanine and to severe developmental disorders. Researchers now report that the PAH gene is not only present in animals and humans, but also in algae, mosses, and coniferous trees.

Phenylketonuria is the most common metabolic disease in humans. It occurs when the so-called PAH gene is defective, thus preventing the amino acid phenylalanine from being metabolized to the amino acid tyrosine. This leads to an accumulation of phenylalanine and to severe developmental disorders.

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In the current issue of the journal Plant Cell, an international research team at the University of Florida, the CNRS Institute in Grenoble, the Noble Foundation, and the University of Freiburg now reports that the PAH gene is not only present in animals and humans, but also in algae, mosses, and coniferous trees. The scientists have not yet succeeded in discovering this gene in flowering plants.

The biologists in Freiburg, led by Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski, switched off the PAH gene in the moss Physcomitrella patens through so-called gene targeting in order to study gene function in the moss.

As expected, these knockout mosses accumulated phenylalanine. In contrast to humans with phenylketonuria, however, the increased concentration of amino acids had no negative effect on the development of the moss. „Evidently, Physcomitrella has a previously unknown detoxification mechanism which has been lost in humans," explains Reski with regard to this surprising discovery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pribat et al. Nonflowering plants possess a unique folate-dependent phenylalanine hydroxylase that is localized in chloroplasts. Plant Cell, 22, 3410-3422

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "No phenylketonuria in certain plants: PAH gene found to be present in plants as well as animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214085543.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2010, December 14). No phenylketonuria in certain plants: PAH gene found to be present in plants as well as animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214085543.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "No phenylketonuria in certain plants: PAH gene found to be present in plants as well as animals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214085543.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

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