PH1 (primary hyperoxaluria type 1) is a severe inborn disorder of glyoxylate metabolism caused by a functional deficiency of the peroxisomal enzyme AGXT (alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase), which converts glyoxylate into glycine using L-alanine as the amino-group donor. Even though pre-genomic studies indicate that other human transaminases can convert glyoxylate into glycine, in PH1 patients these enzymes are apparently unable to compensate for the lack of AGXT, perhaps due to their limited levels of expression, their localization in an inappropriate cell compartment or the scarcity of the required amino-group donor. In the present paper, we describe the cloning of eight human cytosolic aminotransferases, their recombinant expression as His6-tagged proteins and a comparative study on their ability to transaminate glyoxylate, using any standard amino acid as an amino-group donor. To selectively quantify the glycine formed, we have developed and validated an assay based on bacterial GO (glycine oxidase); this assay allows the detection of enzymes that produce glycine by transamination in the presence of mixtures of potential amino-group donors and without separation of the product from the substrates. We show that among the eight enzymes tested, only GPT (alanine transaminase) and PSAT1 (phosphoserine aminotransferase 1) can transaminate glyoxylate with good efficiency, using L-glutamate (and, for GPT, also L-alanine) as the best amino-group donor. These findings confirm that glyoxylate transamination can occur in the cytosol, in direct competition with the conversion of glyoxylate into oxalate. The potential implications for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria are discussed.

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