Hereditary Isolated Glucocorticoid Deficiency Is Associated with Abnormalities of the Adrenocorticotropin Receptor Gene

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Abstract

Isolated glucocorticoid deficiency (IGD) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by progressive primary adrenal insufficiency, without mineralocorticoid deficiency.The cDNA and gene of the human ACTH receptor were recently cloned. The gene encodes a 297-amino acid protein that belongs to the G protein-coupled superfamily of membrane receptors. We hypothesized that the ACTH receptor gene might be defective in IGD. To examine this, we studied its genomic structure by PCR and direct sequencing in a 5-yr-old proband with the disease, his parents, and grandparents. The proband was a compound heterozygote for two different point mutations, one in each allele: (a) a substitution (C --> T), also found in one allele of the mother and maternal grandmother, which introduced a premature stop codon (TGA) at position 201 of the protein; this mutant receptor lacks its entire carboxy-terminal third and, if expressed, should be unable to transduce the signal; and (b) a substitution (C --> G), also found in one of the paternal alleles, which changed neutral serine120 in the apolar third transmembrane domain of the receptor to a positively charged arginine, probably disrupting the ligand-binding site. Standard ovine corticotropin releasing hormone (oCRH) test in the heterozygote parents and maternal grandmother revealed exaggerated and prolonged ACTH responses, suggestive of subclinical resistance to ACTH. We conclude that IGD in this family appears to be due to defects of the ACTH receptor gene. The oCRH test appears to be useful in ascertaining heterozygosity in this syndrome. (J. Clin. Invest. 1993. 92:2458-2461.) Key words: adrenal insufficiency. ACTH receptor. CRH test. G protein-coupled receptors

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