Rebecca D Sanders

Emory University, Atlanta, GA, United States

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Publications (9)42.09 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In both humans and Drosophila melanogaster, UDP-galactose 4'-epimerase (GALE) catalyzes two distinct reactions, interconverting UDP-galactose (UDP-gal) and UDP-glucose (UDP-glc) in the final step of the Leloir pathway of galactose metabolism, and also interconverting UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine (UDP-galNAc) and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-glcNAc). All four of these UDP-sugars serve as vital substrates for glycosylation in metazoans. Partial loss of GALE in humans results in the spectrum disorder epimerase deficiency galactosemia; partial loss of GALE in Drosophila melanogaster also results in galactose-sensitivity, and complete loss in Drosophila is embryonic lethal. However, whether these outcomes in both humans and flies result from loss of one GALE activity, the other, or both has remained unknown. To address this question, we uncoupled the two activities in a Drosophila model, effectively replacing the endogenous dGALE with prokaryotic transgenes, one of which (Escherichia coli GALE) efficiently interconverts only UDP-gal/UDP-glc, and the other of which (Plesiomonas shigelloides wbgU) efficiently interconverts only UDP-galNAc/UDP-glcNAc. Our results demonstrate that both UDP-gal and UDP-galNAc activities of dGALE are required for Drosophila survival, although distinct roles for each activity can be seen in specific windows of developmental time or in response to a galactose challenge. By extension, these data also suggest that both activities might play distinct and essential roles in humans.
    PLoS Genetics 05/2012; 8(5):e1002721. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002721 · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primary or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the most common long-term complication experienced by girls and women with classic galactosemia; more than 80% and perhaps more than 90% are affected despite neonatal diagnosis and careful lifelong dietary restriction of galactose. In this review we explore the complexities of timing and detection of galactosemia-associated POI and discuss potential underlying mechanisms. Finally, we offer recommendations for follow-up care with current options for intervention.
    Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease 10/2010; 34(2):357-66. DOI:10.1007/s10545-010-9221-4 · 4.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Classic galactosemia is a potentially lethal disorder that results from profound impairment of galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT). Despite decades of research, the underlying pathophysiology of classic galactosemia remains unclear, in part owing to the lack of an appropriate animal model. Here, we report the establishment of a Drosophila melanogaster model of classic galactosemia; this is the first whole-animal genetic model to mimic aspects of the patient phenotype. Analogous to humans, GALT-deficient D. melanogaster survive under conditions of galactose restriction, but accumulate elevated levels of galactose-1-phosphate and succumb during larval development following galactose exposure. As in patients, the potentially lethal damage is reversible if dietary galactose restriction is initiated early in life. GALT-deficient Drosophila also exhibit locomotor complications despite dietary galactose restriction, and both the acute and long-term complications can be rescued by transgenic expression of human GALT. Using this new Drosophila model, we have begun to dissect the timing, extent and mechanism(s) of galactose sensitivity in the absence of GALT activity.
    Disease Models and Mechanisms 09/2010; 3(9-10):618-27. DOI:10.1242/dmm.005041 · 4.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: UDP-galactose 4' epimerase (GALE) catalyzes the interconversion of UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose in the final step of the Leloir pathway; human GALE (hGALE) also interconverts UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. GALE therefore plays key roles in the metabolism of dietary galactose, in the production of endogenous galactose, and in maintaining the ratios of key substrates for glycoprotein and glycolipid biosynthesis. Partial impairment of hGALE results in the potentially lethal disorder epimerase-deficiency galactosemia. We report here the generation and initial characterization of a first whole-animal model of GALE deficiency using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Our results confirm that GALE function is essential in developing animals; Drosophila lacking GALE die as embryos but are rescued by the expression of a human GALE transgene. Larvae in which GALE has been conditionally knocked down die within days of GALE loss. Conditional knockdown and transgene expression studies further demonstrate that GALE expression in the gut primordium and Malpighian tubules is both necessary and sufficient for survival. Finally, like patients with generalized epimerase deficiency galactosemia, Drosophila with partial GALE loss survive in the absence of galactose but succumb in development if exposed to dietary galactose. These data establish the utility of the fly model of GALE deficiency and set the stage for future studies to define the mechanism(s) and modifiers of outcome in epimerase deficiency galactosemia.
    Disease Models and Mechanisms 09/2010; 3(9-10):628-38. DOI:10.1242/dmm.005058 · 4.96 Impact Factor
  • Fertility and sterility 09/2009; 92(2):e30; author reply e31. DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.06.016 · 4.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Duarte galactosemia is a mild to asymptomatic condition that results from partial impairment of galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT). Patients with Duarte galactosemia demonstrate reduced GALT activity and carry one profoundly impaired GALT allele (G) along with a second, partially impaired GALT allele (Duarte-2, D2). Molecular studies reveal at least five sequence changes on D2 alleles: a p.N314D missense substitution, three intronic base changes and a 4 bp deletion in the 5' proximal sequence. The four non-coding sequence changes are unique to D2. The p.N314D substitution, however, is not; it is found together with a silent polymorphism, p.L218(TTA), on functionally normal Duarte-1 alleles (D1, also called Los Angeles or LA alleles). The HapMap database reveals that p.N314D is a common human variant, and cross-species comparisons implicate D314 as the ancestral allele. The p.N314D substitution is also functionally neutral in mammalian cell and yeast expression studies. In contrast, the 4 bp 5' deletion characteristic of D2 alleles appears to be functionally impaired in reporter gene transfection studies. Here we present allele-specific qRT-PCR evidence that D2 alleles express less mRNA in vivo than their wild-type counterparts; the difference is small but statistically significant. Furthermore, we characterize the prevalence of the 4 bp deletion in GG, NN and DG populations; the deletion appears exclusive to D2 alleles. Combined, these data strongly implicate the 4 bp 5' deletion as a causal mutation in Duarte galactosemia and suggest that direct tests for this deletion, as proposed here, could enhance or supplant current tests, which define D2 alleles on the basis of the presence and absence of linked coding sequence polymorphisms.
    Human Molecular Genetics 03/2009; 18(9):1624-32. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddp080 · 6.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) associated with classic galactosemia results from a true impairment of ovarian function or from aberrant FSH. Cross-sectional study. University research laboratory. Study subjects included 35 girls and women with galactosemia and 43 control girls and women between the ages of <1 and 51 years. Blood sampling and medical and reproductive histories were obtained. We determined FSH and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels in subjects with and without classic galactosemia. FSH bioactivity was measured in a subset of girls and women with and without galactosemia who were not on hormone therapy. FSH levels were significantly higher and AMH levels were significantly lower in our galactosemic cases relative to controls. FSH bioactivity did not significantly differ between cases and controls. Close to 90% of girls and women with classic galactosemia have a profound absence of ovarian function, a deficit that is evident shortly after birth, if not before. These patients have no evidence of abnormally functioning FSH. AMH levels can be assessed before menarche or after initiation of hormone therapy and may supplement FSH as a useful blood biomarker of ovarian function for patients with classic galactosemia.
    Fertility and sterility 08/2008; 92(1):344-51. DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.04.060 · 4.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: UDP-galactose 4'-epimerase (GALE) interconverts UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose in the final step of the Leloir pathway. Unlike the Escherichia coli enzyme, human GALE (hGALE) also efficiently interconverts a larger pair of substrates: UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. The basis of this differential substrate specificity has remained obscure. Recently, however, x-ray crystallographic data have both predicted essential active site residues and suggested that differential active site cleft volume may be a key factor in determining GALE substrate selectivity. We report here a direct test of this hypothesis. In brief, we have created four substituted alleles: S132A, Y157F, S132A/Y157F, and C307Y-hGALE. While the first three substitutions were predicted to disrupt catalytic activity, the fourth was predicted to reduce active site cleft volume, thereby limiting entry or rotation of the larger but not the smaller substrate. All four alleles were expressed in a null-background strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and characterized in terms of activity with regard to both UDP-galactose and UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine. The S132A/Y157F and C307Y-hGALE proteins were also overexpressed in Pichia pastoris and purified for analysis. In all forms tested, the Y157F, S132A, and Y157F/S132A-hGALE proteins each demonstrated a complete loss of activity with respect to both substrates. In contrast, the C307Y-hGALE demonstrated normal activity with respect to UDP-galactose but complete loss of activity with respect to UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine. Together, these results serve to validate the wild-type hGALE crystal structure and fully support the hypothesis that residue 307 acts as a gatekeeper mediating substrate access to the hGALE active site.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2004; 279(31):32796-803. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M405005200 · 4.60 Impact Factor
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