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AMT gene

aminomethyltransferase
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Normal Function

The AMT gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called aminomethyltransferase. This protein is one of four enzymes that work together in a group called the glycine cleavage system. Within cells, this system is active in specialized energy-producing centers called mitochondria.

As its name suggests, the glycine cleavage system breaks down a molecule called glycine by cutting (cleaving) it into smaller pieces. Glycine is an amino acid, which is a building block of proteins. This molecule also acts as a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical messenger that transmits signals in the brain. The breakdown of excess glycine when it is no longer needed is necessary for the normal development and function of nerve cells in the brain.

The breakdown of glycine by the glycine cleavage system produces a molecule called a methyl group. This molecule is added to and used by a vitamin called folate. Folate is required for many functions in the cell and is important for brain development.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Nonketotic hyperglycinemia

Mutations in the AMT gene account for about 20 percent of all cases of nonketotic hyperglycinemia. This condition is characterized by abnormally high levels of glycine in the body (hyperglycinemia). Affected individuals have serious neurological problems. The signs and symptoms of the condition vary in severity and can include severe breathing difficulties shortly after birth as well as weak muscle tone (hypotonia), seizures, and delayed development of milestones. More than 70 mutations have been identified in affected individuals. Most of these genetic changes alter single amino acids in aminomethyltransferase. Other mutations delete genetic material from the AMT gene or disrupt how genetic information from the gene is spliced together to make a blueprint for producing aminomethyltransferase.

AMT gene mutations alter the structure and function of aminomethyltransferase. When an altered version of this enzyme is incorporated into the glycine cleavage system, it impairs the system's ability to break down glycine. Some AMT gene mutations reduce the activity of the glycine cleavage system, while others completely eliminate its activity. As a result, excess glycine can build up in the body's organs and tissues. In addition, the production of methyl groups for use by folate is reduced. It is unclear how these abnormalities contribute to the developmental disability, seizures, breathing difficulties, and other features characteristic of nonketotic hyperglycinemia.

More About This Health Condition

Other Names for This Gene

  • GCE
  • glycine cleavage system protein T
  • NKH

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Research Resources

References

  • Coughlin CR 2nd, Swanson MA, Kronquist K, Acquaviva C, Hutchin T, Rodríguez-Pombo P, Väisänen ML, Spector E, Creadon-Swindell G, Brás-Goldberg AM, Rahikkala E, Moilanen JS, Mahieu V, Matthijs G, Bravo-Alonso I, Pérez-Cerdá C, Ugarte M, Vianey-Saban C, Scharer GH, Van Hove JL. The genetic basis of classic nonketotic hyperglycinemia due to mutations in GLDC and AMT. Genet Med. 2017 Jan;19(1):104-111. doi: 10.1038/gim.2016.74. Epub 2016 Jun 30. Erratum in: Genet Med. 2018 Jan 04;:. Citation on PubMed
  • Kikuchi G, Motokawa Y, Yoshida T, Hiraga K. Glycine cleavage system: reaction mechanism, physiological significance, and hyperglycinemia. Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci. 2008;84(7):246-63. Review. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Kure S, Kato K, Dinopoulos A, Gail C, DeGrauw TJ, Christodoulou J, Bzduch V, Kalmanchey R, Fekete G, Trojovsky A, Plecko B, Breningstall G, Tohyama J, Aoki Y, Matsubara Y. Comprehensive mutation analysis of GLDC, AMT, and GCSH in nonketotic hyperglycinemia. Hum Mutat. 2006 Apr;27(4):343-52. Citation on PubMed
  • Okamura-Ikeda K, Hosaka H, Yoshimura M, Yamashita E, Toma S, Nakagawa A, Fujiwara K, Motokawa Y, Taniguchi H. Crystal structure of human T-protein of glycine cleavage system at 2.0 A resolution and its implication for understanding non-ketotic hyperglycinemia. J Mol Biol. 2005 Sep 2;351(5):1146-59. Citation on PubMed
  • Swanson MA, Coughlin CR Jr, Scharer GH, Szerlong HJ, Bjoraker KJ, Spector EB, Creadon-Swindell G, Mahieu V, Matthijs G, Hennermann JB, Applegarth DA, Toone JR, Tong S, Williams K, Van Hove JL. Biochemical and molecular predictors for prognosis in nonketotic hyperglycinemia. Ann Neurol. 2015 Oct;78(4):606-18. doi: 10.1002/ana.24485. Epub 2015 Aug 10. Erratum in: Ann Neurol. 2016 Mar;79(3):505. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Toone JR, Applegarth DA, Levy HL, Coulter-Mackie MB, Lee G. Molecular genetic and potential biochemical characteristics of patients with T-protein deficiency as a cause of glycine encephalopathy (NKH). Mol Genet Metab. 2003 Aug;79(4):272-80. Citation on PubMed
  • Van Hove JLK, Coughlin C II, Swanson M, Hennermann JB. Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia. 2002 Nov 14 [updated 2019 May 23]. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, Wallace SE, Bean LJH, Stephens K, Amemiya A, editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2020. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1357/ Citation on PubMed
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