A novel Pah-exon1 deleted murine model of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) deficiency

Daelyn Y. Richards, Shelley R. Winn, Sandra Dudley, Lev Fedorov, Nicole Rimann, Beat Thöny, Cary O. Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) deficiency, colloquially known as phenylketonuria (PKU), is among the most common inborn errors of metabolism and in the past decade has become a target for the development of novel therapeutics such as gene therapy. PAH deficient mouse models have been key to new treatment development, but all prior existing models natively express liver PAH polypeptide as inactive or partially active PAH monomers, which complicates the experimental assessment of protein expression following therapeutic gene, mRNA, protein, or cell transfer. The mutant PAH monomers are able to form hetero-tetramers with and inhibit the overall holoenzyme activity of wild type PAH monomers produced from a therapeutic vector. Preclinical therapeutic studies would benefit from a PKU model that completely lacks both PAH activity and protein expression in liver. In this study, we employed CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in fertilized mouse embryos to generate a novel mouse model that lacks exon 1 of the Pah gene. Mice that are homozygous for the Pah exon 1 deletion are viable, severely hyperphenylalaninemic, accurately replicate phenotypic features of untreated human classical PKU and lack any detectable liver PAH activity or protein. This model of classical PKU is ideal for further development of gene and cell biologics to treat PKU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • Gene therapy
  • Knockout mouse model
  • Phenylketonuria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


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