We studied two patients with 3-methylglutaconic aciduria in order to determine the molecular defect. A new assay for 3-methyl-glutaconyl-coenzyme A (CoA) hydratase has been developed in which the substrate, [5-14C]3-methylglutaconyl-CoA, was synthesized using 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase purified from bovine kidney. In this assay the products of the reaction are isolated by reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography and the rates of conversion from substrate are measured. The Michaelis constant for 3-methylglutaconyl-CoA in normal fibroblast was 6.9 μmol/liter. The mean activity of 3-methyl-glutaconyl-CoA hydratase in control fibroblasts was 495 pmol/min per mg protein. In the two patients the values were 11 and 17 pmol/min per mg protein, or 2-3% of normal.
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