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Congenital adrenal hyperplasia caused by mutant P450 oxidoreductase and human androgen synthesis: analytical study.

Arlt W., Walker E.A., Draper N., Ivison H.E., Ride J.P., Hammer F., Chalder S.M., Borucka-Mankiewicz M., Hauffa B.P., Malunowicz E.M., Stewart P.M., Shackleton C.H.L.

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia with apparent combined P450C17 and P450C21 deficiency is associated with accumulation of steroid metabolites, indicating impaired activity of 17alpha-hydroxylase and 21-hydroxylase. However, no mutations have been reported in the CYP17 and CYP21 genes, which encode these P450 enzymes. Affected girls are born with ambiguous genitalia, but their circulating androgens are low, and virilisation does not progress. We aimed to investigate the underlying molecular basis of congenital adrenal hyperplasia with apparent combined P450C17 and P450C21 deficiency in affected children.We did sequence analysis of the human gene encoding P450 oxidoreductase, an enzyme that is important in electron transfer from NADPH to P450C17 and P450C21. We studied two unrelated families with a total of three affected children and 100 healthy controls. Wild-type and mutant P450 oxidoreductase proteins were bacterially expressed, purified, and assayed for cytochrome c reductase activity.We identified four mutations encoding single aminoacid changes in P450 oxidoreductase. All patients were compound heterozygotes, whereas their parents and an unaffected sibling harboured a mutation in only one allele. By contrast, no mutations were noted in the controls. Bacterial expression of recombinant mutant proteins revealed deficient or reduced enzyme activity.Molecular pathogenesis of this form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia is caused by mutations in the gene encoding P450 oxidoreductase. Deficiency of this enzyme could suggest an alternative pathway in human androgen synthesis, present only in fetal life, which explains the combination of antenatal androgen excess and postnatal androgen deficiency.

Lancet 363:2128-2135(2004) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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