Aminoglycosides and other compounds can promote premature termination codon (PTC) readthrough constituting a potential therapy for patients with nonsense mutations. In a cohort of 190 propionic acidemia (PA) patients, we have identified 12 different nonsense mutations, six of them novel, accounting for 10% of the mutant alleles. Using an in vitro system, we establish the proof-of-principle that nonsense mutations in the PCCA and PCCB genes encoding both subunits of the propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) enzyme can be partially suppressed by aminoglycosides, with different efficiencies depending on the sequence context. To correct the metabolic defect, the amino acid incorporated at the PTC should support protein function, and this has been evaluated in silico and by in vitro expression analysis of the predicted missense changes, most of which retain partial activity, confirming the feasibility of the approach. In patients' fibroblasts cultured with readthrough drugs, we observe a fourfold to 50-fold increase in the PCC activity, reaching up to 10–15% level of treated control cells. The ability to partially correct nonsense PCCA and PCCB alleles represents a potential therapy or supplementary treatment for a number of propionic acidemia (PA) patients, encouraging further clinical trials with readthrough drugs without toxic effects such as PTC124 or other newly developed compounds. Hum Mutat 33:973–980, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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