Molecular basis for plasma alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase gene deficiency (FUT6).
While most humans express an alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase in plasma, 9% of individuals on the isle of Java (Indonesia) do not express this enzyme. Ninety-five percent of these plasma alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase-deficient individuals have Lewis negative phenotype on red cells, suggesting strong linkage disequilibrium between these two traits. To define the molecular basis for this plasma deficiency and to determine which of two candidate human alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase genes encode this enzyme (FUT5 and FUT6), we cloned and analyzed alleles at these two loci from an Indonesian individual deficient in plasma alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase activity. Single base pair changes were identified in the coding region of each gene, relative to previously published wild type alleles. These changes in turn yield three codon changes in FUT5 and three in FUT6. The codon changes in the FUT5 gene do not yield detectable diminutions in alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase activity when tested by expression in transfected COS-1 cells, and none of the FUT5 alleles co-segregate with plasma alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase deficiency in Indonesian pedigrees. By contrast, two of the codon changes in the FUT6 alleles inactivate this gene when tested by expression in transfected COS-1 cells. One of these inactivating changes is a missense mutation (Glu-247-->Lys) within the enzyme's catalytic domain. The other inactivating mutation represents a nonsense mutation (Tyr-315-->stop) that truncates the COOH terminus of the enzyme by 45 amino acids. The Glu-247-->Lys missense mutation is present in double dose in the nine plasma alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase-deficient individuals tested, whereas the nonsense mutation at tyrosine 315 is present in double dose in just one of these persons. These results demonstrate that the alpha(1,3)-fucosyltransferase activity in human plasma is encoded by the FUT6 gene and that the missense mutation within codon 247 of this gene is responsible for deficiency of this activity in these Indonesian families.