Date of Award
Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Biological Sciences
Kenneth Michael Gibson
Phenylketonuria, an autosomal recessive Mendelian disorder, is one of the most common inborn errors of metabolism. Although currently treated by diet, many suboptimal outcomes occur for patients. Neuropathological outcomes include cognitive loss, white matter abnormalities, and hypo- or demyelination, resulting from high concentrations and/or fluctuating levels of phenylalanine. High phenylalanine can also result in competitive exclusion of other large neutral amino acids from the brain, including tyrosine and tryptophan (essential precursors of dopamine and serotonin). This competition occurs at the blood brain barrier, where the L-type amino acid transporter, LAT1, selectively facilitates entry of large neutral amino acids. The hypothesis of these studies is that certain non-physiological amino acids (NPAA; DL-norleucine (NL), 2-aminonorbornane (NB; 2-aminobicyclo-(2,1,1)-heptane-2-carboxylic acid), α-aminoisobutyrate (AIB), and α-methyl-aminoisobutyrate (MAIB)) would competitively inhibit LAT1 transport of phenylalanine (Phe) at the blood-brain barrier interface. To test this hypothesis, Pah-/- mice (n=5, mixed gender; Pah+/-(n=5) as controls) were fed either 5% NL, 0.5% NB, 5% AIB or 3% MAIB (w/w 18% protein mouse chow) for 3 weeks. Outcome measurements included food intake, body weight, brain LNAAs, and brain monoamines measured via LCMS/MS or HPLC. Brain Phe values at sacrifice were significantly reduced for NL, NB, and MAIB, verifying the hypothesis that these NPAAs could inhibit Phe trafficking into the brain. However, concomitant reductions in tyrosine and methionine occurred at the concentrations employed. Blood Phe levels were not altered indicating no effect of NPAA competitors in the gut. Brain NL and NB levels, measured with HPLC, verified both uptake and transport of NPAAs. Although believed predominantly unmetabolized, NL feeding significantly increased blood urea nitrogen. Pah-/-disturbances of monoamine metabolism were exacerbated by NPAA intervention, primarily with NB (the prototypical LAT inhibitor). To achieve the overarching goal of using NPAAs to stabilize Phe transport levels into the brain, a specific Phe-reducing combination and concentration of NPAAs must be found.
Our studies represent the first in vivo use of NL, NB and MAIB in Pah-/- mice, and provide proof-of-principle for further characterization of these LAT inhibitors. Our data is the first to document an effect of MAIB, a specific system A transport inhibitor, on large neutral amino acid transport.
Vogel, Kara R., "Inhibition of L-type amino acid transport with non-physiological amino acids in the Pahenu2 mouse model of phenylketonuria", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2012.