The strength of our research lies in the finding that some forms of mutant PCC are very responsive to an addition of small chemicals called chemical chaperones. These altered forms of the enzyme are not deficient in their ability to carry out the enzymatic reaction but rather in their ability to form the proper structure and assume the correct shape. The chaperone helps them to fold with a large increase in activity. We have carried out the initial experiments on normal and three mutant forms of PCC in a bacterial system in which the human enzyme can be manufactured. Later, we have used the chaperones in skin cell cultures derived from controls and propionic acidemia patients. Again, in some cases we saw large increases in PCC activity. We will continue to screen different chemicals and different mutations for their ability to yield more active PCC. The hope is that this approach can be introduced in clinical practice and help some patients to overcome their metabolic disease. The real promise is that some of the drugs, which gave us the best results, are already in use in clinical practice to treat other disorders.
PCC Website: http://www.uchsc.edu/cbs/pcc/about_pcc.htm