Pyrimidine 5′-nucleotidase (P5′N-1) is a dephosphorylating enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of various pyrimidine nucleoside 5′-monophosphates, particularly UMP and CMP, to produce the corresponding nucleosides. In RBC the reaction is essential for the removal of the nucleotides mainly arising from ribosomal RNA degradation during final erythroid maturation. Hereditary P5′N-1 deficiency is the third most common enzymopathy causing hereditary non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia. The disorder is transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait and is usually characterized by mild-to-moderate hemolytic anemia and accumulation of pyrimidine nucleotides within the erythrocyte. The enzyme is strongly inactivated by heavy metals; thus P5′N-1 deficiency can be acquired as a result of lead poisoning. The P5′N-1 gene is localized on 7p15-p14 and the cDNA has been cloned and sequenced. 24 different mutations have been identified so far, most of them at the homozygous level. Recently, five pathological variants of P5′N-1 have been in-depth characterized, and the molecular bases of the P5′N-1 deficiency has been elucidated. To unravel the cause of the P5′N-1 deficiency found in patients with hemolytic anemia and homozygous for 3 newly identified missense mutations (c.187T>C, c.469G>C, c.740T>C;

Balta et al,
Blood ASH
Manco et al,
), we have undertaken a functional analysis of the 3 mutant enzymatic forms. The C63R, G157R and I247T proteins were produced as recombinant forms, purified and biochemically characterized. All enzymes were altered, although to a different extent, either in their catalytic efficiency or in thermal stability, the G157R being the most impaired enzyme. Catalytic efficiency of all mutants turned expecially towards UMP (about 50 to 200 times), owing to the increased Km values (about 10–25 times higher). The kinetic behaviour vs CMP was partly affected, the catalytic activity being moderately reduced (Kcat lowered to 5–20%). The G157R protein was highly heat unstable, halving the activity in about 23 min at 37°C, whereas C63R and I247T mutants at the same temperature maintained fully activity for more than 2 hours. However, at higher temperature also C63R and I247T mutants resulted less stable than the wild-type enzyme losing the activity in few minutes (t1/2 at 46°C, about 5 min vs 2 hours of the wild-type enzyme). Therefore, although mutations targeted different regions of the P5′N-1 structure, unexpectedly they produced similar aberrant effects on the molecular properties of the enzyme. Gly157 is a conserved amino acid, located close to the substrate binding site. Very likely, position 157 cannot tolerate the large and charged arginine side-chain introduced by c.469G>C mutation. Thus, it is conceivable that the drastic G157R substitution not only indirectly affects the binding of the substrate(s), but also weakens the protein stability. Cys63 and Ile247 are located far away from the catalytic site. Nevertheless, our biochemical data indicate that they are functionally and structurally important for preserving the enzyme activity. Thus, as in other cases, the decreased catalytic efficiency of C63R and I247T enzymes seems to result from secondary effects related to propagating conformational changes.

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