The extracellular calcium (Ca2+ o)-sensing receptor (CaSR) is a family C G protein-coupled receptor, which detects alterations in Ca2+ o concentrations and modulates parathyroid hormone secretion and urinary calcium excretion. The central role of the CaSR in Ca2+ o homeostasis has been highlighted by the identification of mutations affecting the CASR gene on chromosome 3q21.1. Loss-of-function CASR mutations cause familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH), whereas gain-of-function mutations lead to autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia (ADH). However, CASR mutations are only detected in ≤70% of FHH and ADH cases, referred to as FHH type 1 and ADH type 1, respectively, and studies in other FHH and ADH kindreds have revealed these disorders to be genetically heterogeneous. Thus, loss- and gain-of-function mutations of the GNA11 gene on chromosome 19p13.3, which encodes the G-protein α-11 (Gα11) subunit, lead to FHH type 2 and ADH type 2, respectively; whilst loss-of-function mutations of AP2S1 on chromosome 19q13.3, which encodes the adaptor-related protein complex 2 sigma (AP2σ) subunit, cause FHH type 3. These studies have demonstrated Gα11 to be a key mediator of downstream CaSR signal transduction, and also revealed a role for AP2σ, which is involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, in CaSR signalling and trafficking. Moreover, FHH type 3 has been demonstrated to represent a more severe FHH variant that may lead to symptomatic hypercalcaemia, low bone mineral density and cognitive dysfunction. In addition, calcimimetic and calcilytic drugs, which are positive and negative CaSR allosteric modulators, respectively, have been shown to be of potential benefit for these FHH and ADH disorders.
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Fadil M Hannan, Valerie N Babinsky, and Rajesh V Thakker
Caroline M Gorvin, Paul J Newey, and Rajesh V Thakker
The prolactin receptor (PRLR) signals predominantly through the JAK2-STAT5 pathway regulating multiple physiological functions relating to fertility, lactation, and metabolism. However, the molecular pathology and role of PRLR mutations and signalling are incompletely defined, with progress hampered by a lack of reported disease-associated PRLR variants. To date, two common germline PRLR variants are reported to demonstrate constitutive activity, with one, Ile146Leu, overrepresented in benign breast disease, while a rare activating variant, Asn492Ile, is reported to be associated with an increased incidence of prolactinoma. In contrast, an inactivating germline heterozygous PRLR variant (His188Arg) was reported in a kindred with hyperprolactinaemia, while an inactivating compound heterozygous PRLR variant (Pro269Leu/Arg171Stop) was identified in an individual with hyperprolactinaemia and agalactia. We hypothesised that additional rare germline PRLR variants, identified from large-scale sequencing projects (ExAC and GnomAD), may be associated with altered in vitro PRLR signalling activity. We therefore evaluated >300 previously uncharacterised non-synonymous, germline PRLR variants and selected 10 variants for in vitro analysis based on protein prediction algorithms, proximity to known functional domains and structural modelling. Five variants, including extracellular and intracellular domain variants, were associated with altered responses when compared to the wild-type receptor. These altered responses included loss- and gain-of-function activities related to STAT5 signalling, Akt and FOXO1 activity, as well as cell viability and apoptosis. These studies provide further insight into PRLR structure–function and indicate that rare germline PRLR variants may have diverse modulating effects on PRLR signalling, although the pathophysiologic relevance of such alterations remains to be defined.
Kate E Lines, Anna K Gluck, Supat Thongjuea, Chas Bountra, Rajesh V Thakker, and Caroline M Gorvin
Corticotrophinomas represent 10% of all surgically removed pituitary adenomas, however, current treatment options are often not effective, and there is a need for improved pharmacological treatments. Recently, JQ1+, a bromodomain inhibitor that promotes gene transcription by binding acetylated histone residues and recruiting transcriptional machinery, has been shown to reduce proliferation in a murine corticotroph cell line, AtT20. RNA-Seq analysis of AtT20 cells following treatment with JQ1+ identified the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) gene as significantly downregulated, which was subsequently confirmed using real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. CaSR is a G protein-coupled receptor that plays a central role in calcium homeostasis but can elicit non-calcitropic effects in multiple tissues, including the anterior pituitary where it helps regulate hormone secretion. However, in AtT20 cells, CaSR activates a tumour-specific cAMP pathway that promotes ACTH and PTHrP hypersecretion. We hypothesised that the Casr promoter may harbour binding sites for BET proteins, and using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-sequencing demonstrated that the BET protein Brd3 binds to the promoter of the Casr gene. Assessment of CaSR signalling showed that JQ1+ significantly reduced Ca2+e-mediated increases in intracellular calcium (Ca2+i) mobilisation and cAMP signalling. However, the CaSR-negative allosteric modulator, NPS-2143, was unable to reduce AtT20 cell proliferation, indicating that reducing CaSR expression rather than activity is likely required to reduce pituitary cell proliferation. Thus, these studies demonstrate that reducing CaSR expression may be a viable option in the treatment of pituitary tumours. Moreover, current strategies to reduce CaSR activity, rather than protein expression for cancer treatments, may be ineffective.