Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

GADL1 is a multifunctional decarboxylase with tissue-specific roles in β-alanine and carnosine production

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Science Advances  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 29, eabb3713
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb3713


Carnosine and related β-alanine–containing peptides are believed to be important antioxidants, pH buffers, and neuromodulators. However, their biosynthetic routes and therapeutic potential are still being debated. This study describes the first animal model lacking the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase–like 1 (GADL1). We show that Gadl1−/− mice are deficient in β-alanine, carnosine, and anserine, particularly in the olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, and skeletal muscle. Gadl1−/− mice also exhibited decreased anxiety, increased levels of oxidative stress markers, alterations in energy and lipid metabolism, and age-related changes. Examination of the GADL1 active site indicated that the enzyme may have multiple physiological substrates, including aspartate and cysteine sulfinic acid. Human genetic studies show strong associations of the GADL1 locus with plasma levels of carnosine, subjective well-being, and muscle strength. Together, this shows the multifaceted and organ-specific roles of carnosine peptides and establishes Gadl1 knockout mice as a versatile model to explore carnosine biology and its therapeutic potential.

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