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Mutations in the PCCA or PCCB genes coding for alpha and beta subunits of propionyl CoA carboxylase can cause propionic acidemia. To understand the molecular basis of the intragenic complementation previously reported at the PCCB locus, we now examine the complementation behaviour of four carboxy-terminal and 11 amino-terminal naturally occurring mutant alleles both using cell fusion and reconstructing the complementation event by transfecting the mutant cDNAs to generate multimeric hybrid proteins. Alleles carrying mutations p.R410W and p.W531X are able to complement with 10 out of 11 amino-terminal mutations assayed. Only the unstable p.R512C, p.L519P and p.G112D mutants fail to complement. The results analyzed in the framework of the crystal structure of the homologous 12S transcarboxylase from Propionibacterium shermanii show that all mutant alleles studied are located at beta subunits interfaces, complementing alleles at the inter-trimer interface, where the catalysis probably happens, and non-complementing alleles at the intra-trimer interface, probably disrupting the trimer formation. Our results also show a remarkable stabilization effect when p.R410W is cotransfected with p.G246V. We propose a model for intragenic complementation requiring the production of two different beta subunits carrying carboxy and amino-terminal mutations that allow regenerating functional active sites and in which a stabilization effect between subunits could be relevant to ameliorate the biochemical phenotype of each mutation separately.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





489 - 498


Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors, Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Carboxyl and Carbamoyl Transferases, Cell Line, DNA Mutational Analysis, DNA, Complementary, Fibroblasts, Genetic Complementation Test, Genetic Vectors, Humans, Methylmalonyl-CoA Decarboxylase, Models, Genetic, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, Propionates, Propionibacterium, Protein Subunits, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Transfection