Biallelic GALM pathogenic variants cause a novel type of galactosemia

Yoichi Wada, Atsuo Kikuchi, Natsuko Arai-Ichinoi, Osamu Sakamoto, Yusuke Takezawa, Shinya Iwasawa, Tetsuya Niihori, Hiromi Nyuzuki, Yoko Nakajima, Erika Ogawa, Mika Ishige, Hiroki Hirai, Hideo Sasai, Ryoji Fujiki, Matsuyuki Shirota, Ryo Funayama, Masayuki Yamamoto, Tetsuya Ito, Osamu Ohara, Keiko NakayamaYoko Aoki, Seizo Koshiba, Toshiyuki Fukao, Shigeo Kure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Galactosemia is caused by metabolic disturbances at various stages of galactose metabolism, including deficiencies in enzymes involved in the Leloir pathway (GALT, GALK1, and GALE). Nevertheless, the etiology of galactosemia has not been identified in a subset of patients. This study aimed to explore the causes of unexplained galactosemia. Methods: Trio-based exome sequencing and/or Sanger sequencing was performed in eight patients with unexplained congenital galactosemia. In vitro enzymatic assays and immunoblot assays were performed to confirm the pathogenicity of the variants. Results: The highest blood galactose levels observed in each patient were 17.3–41.9 mg/dl. Bilateral cataracts were observed in two patients. In all eight patients, we identified biallelic variants (p.Arg82*, p.Ile99Leufs*46, p.Gly142Arg, p.Arg267Gly, and p.Trp311*) in the GALM encoding galactose mutarotase, which catalyzes epimerization between β- and α-D-galactose in the first step of the Leloir pathway. GALM enzyme activities were undetectable in lymphoblastoid cell lines established from two patients. Immunoblot analysis showed the absence of the GALM protein in the patients’ peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In vitro GALM expression and protein stability assays revealed altered stabilities of the variant GALM proteins. Conclusion: Biallelic GALM pathogenic variants cause galactosemia, suggesting the existence of type IV galactosemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1286-1294
Number of pages9
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01-06-2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)


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