UbiA prenyltransferase domain-containing protein-1 (UBIAD1) is responsible for the biosynthesis of menaquinone-4 (MK-4), a cofactor for extrahepatic carboxylation of vitamin K-dependent (VKD) proteins. Genetic variations of UBIAD1 are mainly associated with Schnyder corneal dystrophy (SCD), a disease characterized by abnormal accumulation of cholesterol in the cornea. Results from in vitro studies demonstrate that SCD-associated UBIAD1 mutations are defective in MK-4 biosynthesis. However, SCD patients do not exhibit typical phenotypes associated with defects of MK-4 or VKD carboxylation. Here, we coupled UBIAD1’s biosynthetic activity of MK-4 with VKD carboxylation in HEK293 cells that stably express a chimeric VKD reporter protein. The endogenous Ubiad1 gene in these cells was knocked out by CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing. The effect of UBIAD1 mutations on MK-4 biosynthesis and VKD carboxylation was evaluated in Ubiad1-deficient reporter cells by determining the production of MK-4 or by measuring the efficiency of reporter-protein carboxylation. Our results show that the hot-spot mutation N102S has a moderate impact on MK-4 biosynthesis (retained ˜ 82% activity) but does not affect VKD carboxylation. However, the G186R mutation significantly affected both MK-4 biosynthesis and VKD carboxylation. Other mutations exhibit varying degrees of effects on MK-4 biosynthesis and VKD carboxylation. These results are consistent with in vivo results obtained from gene knock-in mice and SCD patients. Our findings suggest that UBIAD1’s MK-4 biosynthetic activity does not directly correlate with the phenotypes of SCD patients. The established cell-based assays in this study provide a powerful tool for the functional studies of UBIAD1 in a cellular milieu.
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