|Shull, J. D.; Pitot, H. C.
|The ornithine aminotransferase gene in gyrate atrophy of the retina: analysis of expression and gross structure of this gene in cultured fibroblasts
|In Vitro Cell Dev Biol
|Gyrate atrophy (GA), a degenerative disease of the human chorioretina, is associated with a deficiency of ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) activity, hyperornithinemia, and ornithinuria. We have characterized a cDNA clone for OAT (HLOAT) that was isolated from a cDNA library constructed from mRNA prepared from Hep G2 cells, a human hepatoma cell line. We have used HLOAT and a nearly full length OAT cDNA clone isolated from a rat liver library (RLOAT) to examine in cultured fibroblasts from individuals with GA and control individuals, the expression of OAT mRNA and the gross structure of the OAT gene. Northern blot analyses of total cellular RNA indicated that 3 of 3 control cell lines and 5 of 6 GA cell lines are capable of expressing an OAT related mRNA of approximately 2100 bases, the size of OAT mRNA. To date, this is the only case of GA in which a complete lack of OAT mRNA has been observed. Southern blot analyses of DNA isolated from these cell lines indicated that the gross structure of the OAT gene is usually not detectably altered in individuals with GA. However, a unique pattern of restriction fragments was observed upon digestion with Eco RI or Hind III of DNA from the GA cell line that does not express OAT mRNA. These unique Eco RI and Hind III fragments arise from the OAT structural gene and will serve as useful molecular markers that allow this particular defective OAT allele to be identified. When the cellular DNAs were digested with Hinf I and examined with a probe that corresponds to at least a portion of the active site of the enzyme, i.e., the pyridoxal phosphate binding site, identical patterns of fragments were detected in all samples. Therefore, it appears unlikely that the loss of OAT activity associated with these GA cases, 4 of which are pyridoxal phosphate responders, is the result of insertions or deletions in this region of the OAT gene. This study indicates that the lack of OAT enzyme activity associated with GA is the result of a variety of different molecular defects within the OAT gene.