Low blood folate levels result in hyperhomocysteinemia, which has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects and cognitive deficits. Intake of dietary folates is the chief determinant of blood folate levels. Molecular defects in the intestinal absorption of dietary folates that precipitate low blood folate levels and hyperhomocysteinemia have not been investigated previously. Dietary folates are a mixture of polyglutamylated folates which are digested to monoglutamyl folates by the action of folylpoly-gamma-glutamate carboxypeptidase (FGCP), an enzyme that is anchored to the intestinal brush border membrane and is expressed by the glutamate carboxypepidase II (GCPII) gene. We cloned GCPII cDNA from human intestine and identified both a full-length transcript and a 93 bp shorter transcript lacking exon 18, consistent with the presence of a splice variant. In addition, we identified an H475Y polymorphism in GCPII in DNA samples from a healthy Caucasian population (n = 75). We found that membranes of transfected COS-7 cells expressing the H475Y variant GCPII cDNA had 53% less FGCP activity than did cells expressing wild-type GCPII. The presence of the H475Y GCPII allele was significantly associated with lower folate and higher homocysteine levels in this population. These data suggest that the presence of the H475Y GCPII allele impairs the intestinal absorption of dietary folates, resulting in relatively low blood folate levels and consequent hyperhomocysteinemia.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date

22/11/2000

Volume

9

Pages

2837 - 2844

Keywords

Aged, Alleles, Alternative Splicing, Animals, Antigens, Surface, COS Cells, Carboxypeptidases, Cloning, Molecular, DNA Mutational Analysis, European Continental Ancestry Group, Folic Acid, Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II, Homocysteine, Humans, Hyperhomocysteinemia, Intestinal Absorption, Isoenzymes, Jejunum, Middle Aged, Molecular Sequence Data, Polymorphism, Genetic, RNA, Messenger, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Transfection