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Activating hotspot L205R mutation in PRKACA and adrenal Cushing’s syndrome

Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 913-917
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249480

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Abstract

Adrenal Cushing’s syndrome is caused by excess production of glucocorticoid from adrenocortical tumors and hyperplasias, which leads to metabolic disorders. We performed whole-exome sequencing of 49 blood-tumor pairs and RNA sequencing of 44 tumors from cortisol-producing adrenocortical adenomas (ACAs), adrenocorticotropic hormone–independent macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasias (AIMAHs), and adrenocortical oncocytomas (ADOs). We identified a hotspot in the PRKACA gene with a L205R mutation in 69.2% (27 out of 39) of ACAs and validated in 65.5% of a total of 87 ACAs. Our data revealed that the activating L205R mutation, which locates in the P+1 loop of the protein kinase A (PKA) catalytic subunit, promoted PKA substrate phosphorylation and target gene expression. Moreover, we discovered the recurrently mutated gene DOT1L in AIMAHs and CLASP2 in ADOs. Collectively, these data highlight potentially functional mutated genes in adrenal Cushing’s syndrome.

Candidate Cushing's culprit identified

Cushing's syndrome is a rare condition resulting from the excess production of cortisol. About 15% of Cushing's syndrome cases are associated with an adrenocortical tumor. However, the genetic etiology of these adrenocortical tumors is ill defined (see the Perspective by Kirschner). Cao et al. and Sato et al. both performed whole-exome sequencing of tumors from individuals with adrenal Cushing's syndrome and compared it with the patient's own matched non-tumor DNA and identified recurrent mutations in the protein kinase A catalytic subunit alpha (PRKACA) gene, as well as less frequent mutations in other putative pathological genes. The most common recurrent mutation activated the kinase, which may suggest a potential therapeutic target.

Science, this issue p. 913, p. 917; see also p. 804

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