A prolonged elevation in the concentrations of circulating phenylalanine was maintained in newborn mice by daily injections of phenylalanine and a phenylalanine hydroxylase inhibitor, alpha-methylphenylalanine. The result of this chronic hyperphenylalaninaemia was an accumulation of vacant or inactive monoribosomes that persisted for 18 h of each day. An elongation assay in vitro with brain postmitochondrial supernatants demonstrated that, in addition, there was an equally prolonged decrease in the rates of polypeptide-chain elongation by the remaining brain polyribosomes. Analyses of the free amino acid composition in the brains of hyperphenylalaninaemic mice showed a loss of several amino acids from the brain, particularly the large, neutral amino acids, which are co- or counter-transported across plasma membranes with phenylalanine. When a mixture of these amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine) was injected into hyperphenylalaninaemic mice, there was an immediate cessation of monoribosome accumulation in the brain and there was no inhibition of the rates of polypeptide-chain elongation. Although the concentrations of the large, neutral amino acids in the brain were partially preserved by treatment of hyperphenylalaninaemic mice with the amino acid mixture, the elevated concentrations of phenylalanine remained unaltered. The amino acid mixture had no detectable effect on brain protein synthesis in the absence of the hyperphenylalaninaemic condition.
- © 1982 London: The Biochemical Society