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The official name of this gene is “pyruvate kinase, liver and RBC.”
PKLR is the gene's official symbol. The PKLR gene is also known by other names, listed below.
The PKLR gene is active (expressed) in the liver and in red blood cells, where it provides instructions for producing an enzyme called pyruvate kinase. This enzyme is involved in a critical energy-producing process known as glycolysis. During glycolysis, the simple sugar glucose is broken down to produce energy. Specifically, pyruvate kinase is involved in the last step of the glycolytic pathway. In this step, a cluster of oxygen and phosphorus atoms (a phosphate group) is moved from a molecule called phosphoenolpyruvate to another molecule called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), resulting in molecules called pyruvate and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the cell's main energy source.
More than 200 mutations in the PKLR gene have been identified in people with pyruvate kinase deficiency. People with this disorder have two PKLR gene mutations in each cell. Most of the mutations that cause pyruvate kinase deficiency replace single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the pyruvate kinase enzyme or result in an enzyme that is abnormally short. The mutations lead to reduced pyruvate kinase enzyme function, causing a shortage of ATP in red blood cells and increased levels of other molecules produced earlier in the glycolysis process. The abnormal red blood cells are gathered up by the spleen and destroyed.
The resulting shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells (anemia) leads to extreme tiredness (fatigue), unusually pale skin (pallor), and shortness of breath. Iron and a molecule called bilirubin are released when red blood cells are destroyed, resulting in an excess of these substances circulating in the blood. Excess bilirubin in the blood causes yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice) and increases the risk of developing small pebble-like deposits in the gallbladder or bile ducts (gallstones).
Researchers believe that people who have one copy of a PKLR gene mutation in each cell may be partially protected against malaria, an infectious disease carried by a certain type of mosquito. Mutations that lead to a reduction in the amount of functional pyruvate kinase appear to make it more difficult for this parasite to invade red blood cells. Studies indicate that individuals from populations in Africa, where malaria is a frequent cause of death in children, carry one copy of a mutated PKLR gene in each cell more than twice as often as individuals of European descent. The increased frequency of PKLR gene mutations may contribute to resistance against malaria in these African populations.
Cytogenetic Location: 1q21
Molecular Location on chromosome 1: base pairs 155,259,083 to 155,278,530
The PKLR gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 1 at position 21.
More precisely, the PKLR gene is located from base pair 155,259,083 to base pair 155,278,530 on chromosome 1.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/howgeneswork/genelocation) in the Handbook.
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about PKLR helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/mutationsanddisorders/naming) in the Handbook.
acids ; adenosine diphosphate ; adenosine triphosphate ; ADP ; anemia ; ATP ; bile ; bilirubin ; cell ; deficiency ; enzyme ; expressed ; gallbladder ; gene ; glucose ; iron ; isozyme ; jaundice ; kinase ; malaria ; molecule ; mutation ; oxygen ; pallor ; phosphate ; phosphorus ; protein ; RBC ; simple sugar
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary (http://www.ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary).
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/consult/findingprofessional) in the Handbook.