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Steroid 21-hydroxylase (P450c21): a new allele and spread of mutations through the pseudogene.

Wedell A., Luthman H.

Lesions in the gene encoding the adrenal enzyme steroid 21-hydroxylase (P450c21) result in defective adrenal cortisol synthesis, often accompanied by aldosterone deficiency. The symptoms range from severe neonatal disease to inconspicuous symptoms in adulthood depending on the nature of the mutations. The 21-hydroxylase gene is present in close proximity to a highly homologous pseudogene, and both genes show variation in copy number between individuals. For complete DNA sequence characterization, we have applied selective polymerase chain reaction amplification and direct sequencing of all full-length steroid 21-hydroxylase genes present in individuals. Using healthy individuals with only one remaining steroid 21-hydroxylase allele as normal references, a new allele was found in two siblings, in whom clinical and laboratory findings demonstrated moderate enzyme deficiency. Full-length sequencing of this allele displayed an Arg 484 to Pro codon change in exon 10, in the same position as a previously identified GG to C mutation found in a patient with severe 21-hydroxylase deficiency. Arg 484 is located within a stretch of amino acids that are highly conserved between mammalian 21-hydroxylases. The finding of the presently reported 21-hydroxylase allele indicates that the GG to C mutation from the severely affected patient has arisen by a two-step mechanism, consisting of a G to C transversion accompanied by an adjacent G deletion. When sequencing 26 pseudogenes, both these mutations, which are not present in the pseudogenes hitherto reported, were found at low frequency together with a number of other polymorphisms. Thus, also rare mutations can spread via the pseudogene and can therefore be expected to arise independently in unrelated individuals.

Hum. Genet. 91:236-240(1993) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]