Publications by authors named "Rebecca L Hood"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

BAFopathies' DNA methylation epi-signatures demonstrate diagnostic utility and functional continuum of Coffin-Siris and Nicolaides-Baraitser syndromes.

Nat Commun 2018 11 20;9(1):4885. Epub 2018 Nov 20.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University, London, N6A 5W9, ON, Canada.

Coffin-Siris and Nicolaides-Baraitser syndromes (CSS and NCBRS) are Mendelian disorders caused by mutations in subunits of the BAF chromatin remodeling complex. We report overlapping peripheral blood DNA methylation epi-signatures in individuals with various subtypes of CSS (ARID1B, SMARCB1, and SMARCA4) and NCBRS (SMARCA2). We demonstrate that the degree of similarity in the epi-signatures of some CSS subtypes and NCBRS can be greater than that within CSS, indicating a link in the functional basis of the two syndromes. We show that chromosome 6q25 microdeletion syndrome, harboring ARID1B deletions, exhibits a similar CSS/NCBRS methylation profile. Specificity of this epi-signature was confirmed across a wide range of neurodevelopmental conditions including other chromatin remodeling and epigenetic machinery disorders. We demonstrate that a machine-learning model trained on this DNA methylation profile can resolve ambiguous clinical cases, reclassify those with variants of unknown significance, and identify previously undiagnosed subjects through targeted population screening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07193-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244416PMC
November 2018

Genomic DNA Methylation Signatures Enable Concurrent Diagnosis and Clinical Genetic Variant Classification in Neurodevelopmental Syndromes.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 01;102(1):156-174

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University, London, ON N6A5C1, Canada; Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Molecular Diagnostics Division, London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON N6A5W9, Canada. Electronic address:

Pediatric developmental syndromes present with systemic, complex, and often overlapping clinical features that are not infrequently a consequence of Mendelian inheritance of mutations in genes involved in DNA methylation, establishment of histone modifications, and chromatin remodeling (the "epigenetic machinery"). The mechanistic cross-talk between histone modification and DNA methylation suggests that these syndromes might be expected to display specific DNA methylation signatures that are a reflection of those primary errors associated with chromatin dysregulation. Given the interrelated functions of these chromatin regulatory proteins, we sought to identify DNA methylation epi-signatures that could provide syndrome-specific biomarkers to complement standard clinical diagnostics. In the present study, we examined peripheral blood samples from a large cohort of individuals encompassing 14 Mendelian disorders displaying mutations in the genes encoding proteins of the epigenetic machinery. We demonstrated that specific but partially overlapping DNA methylation signatures are associated with many of these conditions. The degree of overlap among these epi-signatures is minimal, further suggesting that, consistent with the initial event, the downstream changes are unique to every syndrome. In addition, by combining these epi-signatures, we have demonstrated that a machine learning tool can be built to concurrently screen for multiple syndromes with high sensitivity and specificity, and we highlight the utility of this tool in solving ambiguous case subjects presenting with variants of unknown significance, along with its ability to generate accurate predictions for subjects presenting with the overlapping clinical and molecular features associated with the disruption of the epigenetic machinery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.12.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5777983PMC
January 2018

Plastic changes at corticostriatal synapses predict improved motor function in a partial lesion model of Parkinson's disease.

Brain Res Bull 2017 04 20;130:257-267. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, Center for Neurosciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address:

In Parkinson's disease, striatal dopamine depletion leads to plastic changes at excitatory corticostriatal and thalamostriatal synapses. The functional consequences of these responses on the expression of behavioral deficits are incompletely understood. In addition, most of the information on striatal synaptic plasticity has been obtained in models with severe striatal dopamine depletion, and less is known regarding changes during early stages of striatal denervation. Using a partial model of nigral cell loss based on intranigral injection of the proteasome inhibitor lactacystin, we demonstrate ultrastructural changes at corticostriatal synapses with a 15% increase in the length and 30% increase in the area of the postsynaptic densities at corticostriatal synapses 1 week following toxin administration. This increase was positively correlated with the performance of lactacystin-lesioned mice on the rotarod task, such that mice with a greater increase in the size of the postsynaptic density performed better on the rotarod task. We therefore propose that lengthening of the postsynaptic density at corticostriatal synapses acts as a compensatory mechanism to maintain motor function under conditions of partial dopamine depletion. The ultrastructure of thalamostriatal synapses remained unchanged following lactacystin administration. Our findings provide novel insights into the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and behavioral compensation following partial loss of substantia nigra pars compacta neurons, such as those occurring during the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2017.02.005DOI Listing
April 2017

The defining DNA methylation signature of Floating-Harbor Syndrome.

Sci Rep 2016 12 9;6:38803. Epub 2016 Dec 9.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University, 1151 Richmond Street, London, N6A 3K7, Canada.

Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is an autosomal dominant genetic condition characterized by short stature, delayed osseous maturation, expressive language impairment, and unique facial dysmorphology. We previously identified mutations in the chromatin remodeling protein SRCAP (SNF2-related CBP Activator Protein) as the cause of FHS. SRCAP has multiple roles in chromatin and transcriptional regulation; however, specific epigenetic consequences of SRCAP mutations remain to be described. Using high resolution genome-wide DNA methylation analysis, we identified a unique and highly specific DNA methylation "epi-signature" in the peripheral blood of individuals with FHS. Both hyper and hypomethylated loci are distributed across the genome, preferentially occurring in CpG islands. Clonal bisulfite sequencing of two hypermethylated (FIGN and STPG2) and two hypomethylated (MYO1F and RASIP1) genes confirmed these findings. The identification of a unique methylation signature in FHS provides further insight into the biological function of SRCAP and provides a unique biomarker for this disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep38803DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5146968PMC
December 2016

Exercise intervention increases spontaneous locomotion but fails to attenuate dopaminergic system loss in a progressive MPTP model in aged mice.

Brain Res 2016 09 24;1646:535-542. Epub 2016 Jun 24.

Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, L470, Portland, 97239 OR, USA; Portland VA Medical Center, 3710 SW US Veterans Hospital Road, Portland, 97239 OR, USA. Electronic address:

While exercise is commonly recommended for PD patients to improve motor function, little is known about the disease-altering potential of exercise. Although others have demonstrated neuroprotective or neurorestorative effects of exercise in animal models of PD, the majority of these studies utilize young animals. In order to assess the effects of exercise intervention in a more clinically relevant model, we have subjected aged mice to progressive 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) lesioning and daily treadmill exercise, initiated early in the course of the disease. The MPTP model elicited a 55% reduction in striatal TH as measured by immunohistochemistry compared to sedentary controls, and exercise did not attenuate this loss in exercised MPTP animals. Furthermore, striatal TH and DAT loss, as assessed by western blotting, were not significantly impacted by treadmill exercise in MPTP-lesioned mice. We did find an increase in spontaneous locomotion in exercised mice that was not decreased by MPTP lesioning. This finding may be due, in part, to an increase in TH expression in the motor cortex in exercised MPTP mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2016.06.032DOI Listing
September 2016

Severe connective tissue laxity including aortic dilatation in Sotos syndrome.

Am J Med Genet A 2016 Feb 27;170A(2):531-535. Epub 2015 Nov 27.

Care4Rare Canada Consortium, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.37402DOI Listing
February 2016

Executive function deficits and glutamatergic protein alterations in a progressive 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

J Neurosci Res 2015 Dec 31;93(12):1849-64. Epub 2015 Aug 31.

Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon.

Changes in executive function are at the root of most cognitive problems associated with Parkinson's disease. Because dopaminergic treatment does not necessarily alleviate deficits in executive function, it has been hypothesized that dysfunction of neurotransmitters/systems other than dopamine (DA) may be associated with this decrease in cognitive function. We have reported decreases in motor function and dopaminergic/glutamatergic biomarkers in a progressive 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) Parkinson's mouse model. Assessment of executive function and dopaminergic/glutamatergic biomarkers within the limbic circuit has not previously been explored in our model. Our results show progressive behavioral decline in a cued response task (a rodent model for frontal cortex cognitive function) with increasing weekly doses of MPTP. Although within the dorsolateral (DL) striatum mice that had been given MPTP showed a 63% and 83% loss of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter expression, respectively, there were no changes in the nucleus accumbens or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Furthermore, dopamine-1 receptor and vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT)-1 expression increased in the mPFC following DA loss. There were significant MPTP-induced decreases and increases in VGLUT-1 and VGLUT-2 expression, respectively, within the DL striatum. We propose that the behavioral decline following MPTP treatment may be associated with a change not only in cortical-cortical (VGLUT-1) glutamate function but also in striatal DA and glutamate (VGLUT-1/VGLUT-2) input.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.23638DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4618105PMC
December 2015

Neuronal gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) type A receptors undergo cognate ligand chaperoning in the endoplasmic reticulum by endogenous GABA.

Front Cell Neurosci 2015 18;9:188. Epub 2015 May 18.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University, Health Sciences Center-Shreveport Shreveport, LA, USA.

GABAA receptors mediate fast inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain. Dysfunction of these receptors is associated with various psychiatric/neurological disorders and drugs targeting this receptor are widely used therapeutic agents. Both the efficacy and plasticity of GABAA receptor-mediated neurotransmission depends on the number of surface GABAA receptors. An understudied aspect of receptor cell surface expression is the post-translational regulation of receptor biogenesis within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We have previously shown that exogenous GABA can act as a ligand chaperone of recombinant GABAA receptors in the early secretory pathway leading us to now investigate whether endogenous GABA facilitates the biogenesis of GABAA receptors in primary cerebral cortical cultures. In immunofluorescence labeling experiments, we have determined that neurons expressing surface GABAA receptors contain both GABA and its degradative enzyme GABA transaminase (GABA-T). Treatment of neurons with GABA-T inhibitors, a treatment known to increase intracellular GABA levels, decreases the interaction of the receptor with the ER quality control protein calnexin, concomittantly increasing receptor forward-trafficking and plasma membrane insertion. The effect of GABA-T inhibition on the receptor/calnexin interaction is not due to the activation of surface GABAA or GABAB receptors. Consistent with our hypothesis that GABA acts as a cognate ligand chaperone in the ER, immunogold-labeling of rodent brain slices reveals the presence of GABA within the rough ER. The density of this labeling is similar to that present in mitochondria, the organelle in which GABA is degraded. Lastly, the effect of GABA-T inhibition on the receptor/calnexin interaction was prevented by pretreatment with a GABA transporter inhibitor. Together, these data indicate that endogenous GABA acts in the rough ER as a cognate ligand chaperone to facilitate the biogenesis of neuronal GABAA receptors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2015.00188DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4435044PMC
June 2015

The phenotype of Floating-Harbor syndrome: clinical characterization of 52 individuals with mutations in exon 34 of SRCAP.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2013 Apr 27;8:63. Epub 2013 Apr 27.

Background: Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition characterized by short stature, delays in expressive language, and a distinctive facial appearance. Recently, heterozygous truncating mutations in SRCAP were determined to be disease-causing. With the availability of a DNA based confirmatory test, we set forth to define the clinical features of this syndrome.

Methods And Results: Clinical information on fifty-two individuals with SRCAP mutations was collected using standardized questionnaires. Twenty-four males and twenty-eight females were studied with ages ranging from 2 to 52 years. The facial phenotype and expressive language impairments were defining features within the group. Height measurements were typically between minus two and minus four standard deviations, with occipitofrontal circumferences usually within the average range. Thirty-three of the subjects (63%) had at least one major anomaly requiring medical intervention. We did not observe any specific phenotype-genotype correlations.

Conclusions: This large cohort of individuals with molecularly confirmed FHS has allowed us to better delineate the clinical features of this rare but classic genetic syndrome, thereby facilitating the development of management protocols.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1750-1172-8-63DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659005PMC
April 2013

Hydrogen sulfide preconditions the db/db diabetic mouse heart against ischemia-reperfusion injury by activating Nrf2 signaling in an Erk-dependent manner.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2013 May 11;304(9):H1215-24. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30308, USA.

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) therapy protects nondiabetic animals in various models of myocardial injury, including acute myocardial infarction and heart failure. Here, we sought to examine whether H2S therapy provides cardioprotection in the setting of type 2 diabetes. H2S therapy in the form of sodium sulfide (Na2S) beginning 24 h or 7 days before myocardial ischemia significantly decreased myocardial injury in db/db diabetic mice (12 wk of age). In an effort to evaluate the signaling mechanism responsible for the observed cardioprotection, we focused on the role of nuclear factor E2-related factor (Nrf2) signaling. Our results indicate that diabetes does not alter the ability of H2S to increase the nuclear localization of Nrf2, but does impair aspects of Nrf2 signaling. Specifically, the expression of NADPH quinine oxidoreductase 1 was increased after the acute treatment, whereas the expression of heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was only increased after 7 days of treatment. This discrepancy was found to be the result of an increased nuclear expression of Bach1, a known repressor of HO-1 transcription, which blocked the binding of Nrf2 to the HO-1 promoter. Further analysis revealed that 7 days of Na2S treatment overcame this impairment by removing Bach1 from the nucleus in an Erk1/2-dependent manner. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that exogenous administration of Na2S attenuates myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury in db/db mice, suggesting the potential therapeutic effects of H2S in treating a heart attack in the setting of type 2 diabetes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00796.2012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652093PMC
May 2013

Floating-Harbor syndrome and polycystic kidneys associated with SRCAP mutation.

Am J Med Genet A 2012 Dec 19;158A(12):3196-200. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Oxford Kidney Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK.

Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare genetic disorder recently shown to be caused by mutations in the Snf2-related CREB-binding protein activator protein gene (SRCAP). It comprises three key clinical features of characteristic facies, expressive and receptive speech impairment and short stature. We report on a patient with this syndrome associated with early adult-onset hypertension and bilateral polycystic kidneys. Family screening for polycystic kidney disease was negative and mutations in polycystic kidney disease 1 and 2 genes (PKD1 and PKD2) were absent. Sequencing of the SRCAP gene demonstrated a de novo mutation matching one of the known FHS-associated mutations. The patient required treatment with anti-hypertensives and will require lifelong renal monitoring. We suggest this patient's presentation may be due to the pleiotropic effects of SRCAP mutations. Further, the protein encoded by SRCAP is known to interact with CREB-binding protein, the product of the gene mutated in Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, which is associated with renal abnormalities. A literature review of the renal findings in patients with Floating-Harbor syndrome identified another patient with possible polycystic kidneys, two patients with early onset hypertension, and a young patient with a ruptured intracranial aneurysm, which can be a feature of classic adult polycystic kidney disease. Collectively, these findings suggest that all patients with Floating-Harbor syndrome should undergo regular blood pressure monitoring and screening for polycystic kidneys by ultrasound at the time of the FHS diagnosis with imaging to be repeated during adulthood if a childhood ultrasound was negative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.35635DOI Listing
December 2012

Mutations in SRCAP, encoding SNF2-related CREBBP activator protein, cause Floating-Harbor syndrome.

Am J Hum Genet 2012 Feb 19;90(2):308-13. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition characterized by short stature, delayed osseous maturation, expressive-language deficits, and a distinctive facial appearance. Occurrence is generally sporadic, although parent-to-child transmission has been reported on occasion. Employing whole-exome sequencing, we identified heterozygous truncating mutations in SRCAP in five unrelated individuals with sporadic FHS. Sanger sequencing identified mutations in SRCAP in eight more affected persons. Mutations were de novo in all six instances in which parental DNA was available. SRCAP is an SNF2-related chromatin-remodeling factor that serves as a coactivator for CREB-binding protein (CREBBP, better known as CBP, the major cause of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome [RTS]). Five SRCAP mutations, two of which are recurrent, were identified; all are tightly clustered within a small (111 codon) region of the final exon. These mutations are predicted to abolish three C-terminal AT-hook DNA-binding motifs while leaving the CBP-binding and ATPase domains intact. Our findings show that SRCAP mutations are the major cause of FHS and offer an explanation for the clinical overlap between FHS and RTS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.12.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276662PMC
February 2012

Mutations in EZH2 cause Weaver syndrome.

Am J Hum Genet 2012 Jan 15;90(1):110-8. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

We used trio-based whole-exome sequencing to analyze two families affected by Weaver syndrome, including one of the original families reported in 1974. Filtering of rare variants in the affected probands against the parental variants identified two different de novo mutations in the enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2). Sanger sequencing of EZH2 in a third classically-affected proband identified a third de novo mutation in this gene. These data show that mutations in EZH2 cause Weaver syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.11.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257956PMC
January 2012

Exercise protects against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury via stimulation of β(3)-adrenergic receptors and increased nitric oxide signaling: role of nitrite and nitrosothiols.

Circ Res 2011 Jun 28;108(12):1448-58. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30308, USA.

Rationale: Exercise training confers sustainable protection against ischemia-reperfusion injury in animal models and has been associated with improved survival following a heart attack in humans. It is still unclear how exercise protects the heart, but it is apparent that endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and nitric oxide (NO) play a role.

Objective: To determine the role of β(3)-adrenergic receptors (β(3)-ARs), eNOS activation, and NO metabolites (nitrite and nitrosothiols) in the sustained cardioprotective effects of exercise.

Methods And Results: Here we show that voluntary exercise reduces myocardial injury in mice following a 4-week training period and that these protective effects can be sustained for at least 1 week following the cessation of the training. The sustained cardioprotective effects of exercise are mediated by alterations in the phosphorylation status of eNOS (increase in serine 1177 and decrease in threonine 495), leading to an increase in NO generation and storage of NO metabolites (nitrite and nitrosothiols) in the heart. Further evidence revealed that the alterations in eNOS phosphorylation status and NO generation were mediated by β(3)-AR stimulation and that in response to exercise a deficiency of β(3)-ARs leads to an exacerbation of myocardial infarction following ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Conclusions: Our findings clearly demonstrate that exercise protects the heart against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by stimulation of β(3)-ARs and increased cardiac storage of nitric oxide metabolites (ie, nitrite and nitrosothiols).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.241117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140870PMC
June 2011

Phenylalanine biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Identification and characterization of arogenate dehydratases.

J Biol Chem 2007 Oct 28;282(42):30827-35. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6340, USA.

There is much uncertainty as to whether plants use arogenate, phenylpyruvate, or both as obligatory intermediates in Phe biosynthesis, an essential dietary amino acid for humans. This is because both prephenate and arogenate have been reported to undergo decarboxylative dehydration in plants via the action of either arogenate (ADT) or prephenate (PDT) dehydratases; however, neither enzyme(s) nor encoding gene(s) have been isolated and/or functionally characterized. An in silico data mining approach was thus undertaken to attempt to identify the dehydratase(s) involved in Phe formation in Arabidopsis, based on sequence similarity of PDT-like and ACT-like domains in bacteria. This data mining approach suggested that there are six PDT-like homologues in Arabidopsis, whose phylogenetic analyses separated them into three distinct subgroups. All six genes were cloned and subsequently established to be expressed in all tissues examined. Each was then expressed as a Nus fusion recombinant protein in Escherichia coli, with their substrate specificities measured in vitro. Three of the resulting recombinant proteins, encoded by ADT1 (At1g11790), ADT2 (At3g07630), and ADT6 (At1g08250), more efficiently utilized arogenate than prephenate, whereas the remaining three, ADT3 (At2g27820), ADT4 (At3g44720), and ADT5 (At5g22630) essentially only employed arogenate. ADT1, ADT2, and ADT6 had k(cat)/Km values of 1050, 7650, and 1560 M(-1) S(-1) for arogenate versus 38, 240, and 16 M(-1) S(-1) for prephenate, respectively. By contrast, the remaining three, ADT3, ADT4, and ADT5, had k(cat)/Km values of 1140, 490, and 620 M(-1) S(-1), with prephenate not serving as a substrate unless excess recombinant protein (>150 microg/assay) was used. All six genes, and their corresponding proteins, are thus provisionally classified as arogenate dehydratases and designated ADT1-ADT6.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M702662200DOI Listing
October 2007