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K+ Channel Mutations in Adrenal Aldosterone-Producing Adenomas and Hereditary Hypertension

Science  11 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6018, pp. 768-772
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198785

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Abstract

Endocrine tumors such as aldosterone-producing adrenal adenomas (APAs), a cause of severe hypertension, feature constitutive hormone production and unrestrained cell proliferation; the mechanisms linking these events are unknown. We identify two recurrent somatic mutations in and near the selectivity filter of the potassium (K+) channel KCNJ5 that are present in 8 of 22 human APAs studied. Both produce increased sodium (Na+) conductance and cell depolarization, which in adrenal glomerulosa cells produces calcium (Ca2+) entry, the signal for aldosterone production and cell proliferation. Similarly, we identify an inherited KCNJ5 mutation that produces increased Na+ conductance in a Mendelian form of severe aldosteronism and massive bilateral adrenal hyperplasia. These findings explain pathogenesis in a subset of patients with severe hypertension and implicate loss of K+ channel selectivity in constitutive cell proliferation and hormone production.

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