Dihydropyrimidinase (DHP, EC 126.96.36.199), encoded by the gene DPYS, is the second enzyme in the catabolic pathway of pyrimidine and of fluoropyrimidine drugs such as 5-fluorouracil, which are commonly used in anticancer treatment; DHP catalyzes the hydrolytic ring opening of dihydrouracil and dihydro-5-fluorouracil. DPYS mutations are known to contribute to interindividual variations in the toxicity of fluoropyrimidine drugs, but the functional characterization of DHP allelic variants remains inadequate. In this study, in vitro analysis was performed on 22 allelic variants of DHP by transiently expressing wild-type DHP and 21 DHP variants in 293FT cells and characterizing their enzymatic activities by using dihydrouracil and dihydro-5-fluorouracil as substrates. DHP expression levels and oligomeric forms were determined using immunoblotting and blue native PAGE, respectively, and the stability of the DHP variants was assessed by examining the proteins in variant-transfected cells treated with cycloheximide or bortezomib. Moreover, three kinetic parameters, Km, Vmax, and intrinsic clearance (Vmax/Km), for the hydrolysis of dihydrouracil and dihydro-5-fluorouracil were determined. We found that 5/21 variants showed significantly decreased intrinsic clearance as compared to wild-type DHP, and that 9/21 variants were expressed at low levels and were inactive due to proteasome-mediated degradation. The band patterns observed in the immunoblotting of blue native gels corresponded to DHP activity, and, notably, 18/21 DHP variants exhibited decreased or null enzymatic activity and these variants also showed a drastically reduced ability to form large oligomers. Thus, detection of DPYS genetic polymorphisms might facilitate the prediction severe adverse effects of fluoropyrimidine-based treatments.
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