1. The activity of alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGT; EC 188.8.131.52) has been measured in the unfractionated livers of 20 patients with primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1), three patients with other forms of primary hyperoxaluria and one PH1 heterozygote. The subcellular distribution of AGT activity was examined in four of the PH1 livers and in the liver of the PH1 heterozygote.
2. The mean AGT activity in the unfractionated PH1 livers was 12.6% of the mean control value. The activities of other aminotransferases and the peroxisomal marker enzymes were normal. When corrected for cross-over from glutamate:glyoxylate aminotransferase (GGT; EC 184.108.40.206), the mean AGT activity in the PH1 livers was reduced to 3.3% of the control values.
3. The livers from a patient with primary hyperoxaluria type 2 (d-glycerate dehydrogenase deficiency) and one with an undefined form of primary hyperoxaluria (possibly oxalate hyperabsorption) had normal AGT levels. The livers of a very mild PH1-type variant and a PH1 heterozygote had intermediate levels of AGT activity.
4. Subcellular fractionation of four PH1 livers by sucrose gradient isopycnic centrifugation demonstrated a complete absence of peroxisomal AGT activity. The subcellular distribution of the residual AGT activity was very similar to that of GGT activity (i.e. mainly cytosolic with a small amount mitochondrial). There were no alterations in the subcellular distributions of any of the peroxisomal marker enzymes. The subcellular distribution of AGT activity in the PH1 heterozygote liver was similar to that of the control (i.e. mainly peroxisomal).
5. The residual AGT activity in two of the PH1 livers, which could be accounted for largely by cross-over from GGT, was only slightly dependent on substrate (glyoxylate and alanine) concentration and virtually independent of cofactor (pyridoxal phosphate) concentration.
6. These data confirm our previous findings (C. J. Danpure & P. R. Jennings, FEBS Letters, 1986, 201, 20–24), but on a much larger number of patients, that AGT deficiency is pathognomic for PH1, and is not found in other forms of hyperoxaluria.