The Journal of biological chemistry

Cloning of human transketolase cDNAs and comparison of the nucleotide sequence of the coding region in Wernicke-Korsakoff and non-Wernicke-Korsakoff individuals.

PMID 8419340


Variants of the enzyme transketolase which possess reduced affinity for its cofactor thiamine pyrophosphate (high apparent Km) have been described in chronic alcoholic patients with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Since the syndrome has been shown to be directly related to thiamine deficiency, it has been hypothesized that such transketolase variants may represent a genetic predisposition to the development of this syndrome. To test this hypothesis, human transketolase cDNA clones were isolated, and their nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence were determined. Transketolase was found to be a single copy gene which produces a single mRNA of approximately 2100 nucleotides. Additionally, the nucleotide sequence of the transketolase coding region in fibroblasts derived from two Wernicke-Korsakoff (WK) patients was compared to that of two nonalcoholic controls. Although nucleotide and predicted amino acid differences were detected between fibroblast cultures and the original cDNAs and among the cultures themselves, no specific nucleotide variations, which would encode a variant amino acid sequence, were associated exclusively with the coding region from WK patients. Thus, allelic variants of the transketolase gene cannot account for the biochemically distinct forms of the enzyme found in these patients nor be considered as a mechanism for genetic predisposition to the development of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Instead, the underlying mechanism must be extragenic and may be a result of differences in post-translational processing/modification of the transketolase polypeptide.