NEW PUBLICATION - Cellular and computational models reveal environmental and metabolic interactions in MMUT-type methylmalonic aciduria

A new publication from Dr. Froese

Congratulations to Sean Froese!
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Methylmalonyl-coenzyme A (CoA) mutase (MMUT)-type methylmalonic aciduria is a rare inherited metabolic disease caused by the loss of function of the MMUT enzyme. Patients develop symptoms resembling those of primary mitochondrial disorders, but the underlying causes of mitochondrial dysfunction remain unclear. Here, we examined environmental and genetic interactions in MMUT deficiency using a combination of computational modeling and cellular models to decipher pathways interacting with MMUT. Immortalized fibroblast (hTERT BJ5ta) MMUT-KO (MUTKO) clones displayed a mild mitochondrial impairment in standard glucose-based medium, but they did not to show increased reliance on respiratory metabolism nor reduced growth or viability. Consistently, our modeling predicted MUTKO specific growth phenotypes only for lower extracellular glutamine concentrations. Indeed, two of three MMUT-deficient BJ5ta cell lines showed a reduced viability in glutamine-free medium. Further, growth on 183 different carbon and nitrogen substrates identified increased NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) metabolism of BJ5ta and HEK293 MUTKO cells compared with controls on purine- and glutamine-based substrates. With this knowledge, our modeling predicted 13 reactions interacting with MMUT that potentiate an effect on growth, primarily those of secondary oxidation of propionyl-CoA, oxidative phosphorylation and oxygen diffusion. Of these, we validated 3-hydroxyisobutytyl-CoA hydrolase (HIBCH) in the secondary propionyl-CoA oxidation pathway. Altogether, these results suggest compensation for the loss of MMUT function by increasing anaplerosis through glutamine or by diverting flux away from MMUT through the secondary propionyl-CoA oxidation pathway, which may have therapeutic relevance.

Sabine Harlander