Author(s): Morel Y, David M, Forest MG, Betuel H, Hauptman G,
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Abstract Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) can be caused by a variety of defects in the functional gene encoding 21-hydroxylase (P450c21), which lies in the midst of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) locus on chromosome 6. As a result, Mendelian genetics permit clinically distinct forms of CAH to be traced genetically by HLA and complement typing of family members. The recent cloning of probes for P450c21 now permits tracing of the affected gene directly. A consanguineous family had three members affected with three clinically distinct forms of CAH. Two of these individuals had identical extended haplotypes, including nine HLA and complement loci. Despite this extensive identity, the patterns of genomic DNA fragments digested with endonuclease EcoRI and detected by a P450c21 cDNA probe differed greatly in these two individuals. Thus, the DNA diagnosis of allelic variation was much more sensitive than the HLA diagnosis. Genomic DNA digested with endonuclease TaqI and probed with P450c21 cDNA revealed the 3.2-kilobase (kb) band, which is generally associated with the nonfunctional P450c21 A pseudogene, in all family members, and also revealed the 3.7-kb band associated with the functional P450c21 B gene in all family members except the severely affected index case. Probing of the same blots with a genomic probe also permitted examination of the adjacent downstream TaqI fragments, showing retention of both the 2.4-kb (A pseudogene) and 2.5-kb (B gene) fragments. Similarly, BglII-digested genomic DNA from all individuals contained both the 12-kb (A pseudogene) and 11-kb (B gene) bands. These data indicate that the basis of 21-hydroxylase deficiency in the index case was due to a homozygous gene conversion event and not to gene deletion. These results show that the DNA in and around the 21-hydroxylase gene is genetically very active, so that the usual generalization concerning linkage and inheritance may yield incorrect conclusions and diagnoses.
This article was published in J Clin Endocrinol Metab
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine