Inhibition of Human Brain Pyruvate Kinase and Hexokinase by Phenylalanine and Phenylpyruvate: Possible Relevance to Phenylketonuric Brain Damage
In phenylketonuria high levels of L-phenylalanine are present along with increased levels of phenylpyruvic acid. The present work shows that L-phenylalanine is a competitive inhibitor of human brain pyruvate kinase and phenylpyruvic acid is an inhibitor of human brain hexokinase. The enzymes have approximately the same Ki for these inhibitors in adult and in fetal human brain. However, in the fetal human brain the absolute activities for both enzymes are less than 10 per cent of those found in the adult. Thus, the fetal brain enzymes may be more vulnerable to inhibition by these compounds in the phenylketonurics. The inhibition of human brain pyruvate kinase and hexokinase by L-phenylalanine and phenylpyruvic acid may have a role in the brain damage in phenylketonurics.