Mutant mice exhibiting heritable hyperphenylalaninemia have been isolated after ethylnitrosourea mutagenesis of the germ line. We describe one mutant pedigree in which phenylalanine hydroxylase activity is severely deficient in homozygotes and reduced in heterozygotes while other biochemical components of phenylalanine catabolism are normal. In homozygotes, injection of phenylalanine causes severe hyperphenylalaninemia and urinary excretion of phenylketones but not hypertyrosinemia. Severe chronic hyperphenylalaninemia can be produced when mutant homozygotes are given phenylalanine in their drinking water. Genetic mapping has localized the mutation to murine chromosome 10 at or near the Pah locus, the structural gene for phenylalanine hydroxylase. This mutant provides a useful genetic animal model affected in the same enzyme as in human phenylketonuria.
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