[Molecular genetic analysis of congenital lipoid adrenal hyperplasia]

Wen-Juan Qiu, Jun Ye, Bei Han, Lian-Shu Han, Xue-Fan Gu
Zhonghua Er Ke za Zhi. Chinese Journal of Pediatrics 2004, 42 (8): 585-8

OBJECTIVE: Congenital lipoid adrenal hyperplasia (CLAH) is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder, characterized by deficiency of adrenal and gonadal steroid hormones. Recent studies have shown that mutations in the gene for steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) cause this most severe genetic disorder in steroid hormone biosynthesis. StAR is a mitochondrial protein promotes cholesterol transfer from outer mitochondrial membrane to the inner mitochondrial membrane, where the cholesterol serves as a substrate for P450scc and initiates steroidogenesis. So far, more than 30 different mutations in the StAR gene have been found in the patients with CLAH from various ethnic groups. None of CLAH patients in the Chinese population has been previously reported. In the present study we analyzed the StAR gene in a Chinese patient with CLAH.

METHODS: The patient who was a 19-yr-old phenotypic female, has a 46, XY karyotype. Endocrinological evaluation was performed. Genomic DNA samples were abstracted from the bloods of the patient and his parents. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), direct DNA sequencing, family analysis and restriction enzyme digestion analysis were used to detect and confirm the mutations of StAR gene.

RESULTS: Endocrine evaluation of the patient showed extremely elevated basal concentrations of serum ACTH and gonadotropin and minimal concentration of gonadal steroids. An ACTH stimulation test indicated basal serum dehydroepiandrosterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone were lower than normal detectable range and had no obvious increase after the ACTH stimulation. Automatic sequencing of 7 exons of the StAR gene with the polymerase chain reaction products of the genomic DNA revealed compound heterozygous for a novel nonsense mutation Q77X in exon 3 and the frameshift mutation 838delA in exon 6. The father carried Q77X mutation and the mother carried 838delA mutation. The restriction enzyme site of the Q77X mutation was examined by endonucleotidase BfaI. Furthermore, this mutation was not found in a series of 20 alleles of normal individuals.

CONCLUSION: Q77X is the novel mutation found in the patient with CLAH. Q77X and 838delA compound mutations could inactivate the StAR function and give rise to clinically manifest CLAH. This case is the first Chinese patient with CLAH identified by molecular genetic analysis. DNA-based analysis of StAR gene will be helpful for the diagnosis of CLAH.

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