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B B Mendonça, A J Russell, M Vasconcelos-Leite, IJ P Arnhold, W Bloise, B L Wajchenberg, W Nicolau, R G Sutcliffe, and A M Wallace


A mutation (A82T) is described in the coding sequence of the gene for 3ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3ß-HSD) type II that is associated with variable clinical consequences. Four homozygotes are described, all of which showed elevated levels of Δ5 steroids consistent with 3ß-HSD deficiency. Two males from a consanguineous family were found to be homozygous for A82T and were affected with pseudohermaphroditism. They differed in their degree of mild salt loss. In the same family a female was found to be homozygous for A82T, but was clinically normal and had no history of premature pubarche or of abnormal menstrual cycles. However, in an apparently unrelated family, the A82T mutation was found in a female affected with premature pubarche. This is the first report of a proven mutation in 3ß-HSD type II associated with premature pubarche.

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Ivo J P Arnhold, Marcela M França, Luciani R Carvalho, Berenice B Mendonca, and Alexander A L Jorge

GLI2 is a zinc-finger transcription factor involved in the Sonic Hedgehog pathway. Gli2 mutant mice have hypoplastic anterior and absent posterior pituitary glands. We reviewed the literature for patients with hypopituitarism and alterations in GLI2. Twenty-five patients (16 families) had heterozygous truncating mutations, and the phenotype frequently included GH deficiency, a small anterior pituitary lobe and an ectopic/undescended posterior pituitary lobe on magnetic resonance imaging and postaxial polydactyly. The inheritance pattern was autosomal dominant with incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. The mutation was frequently inherited from an asymptomatic parent. Eleven patients had heterozygous non-synonymous GLI2 variants that were classified as variants of unknown significance, because they were either absent from or had a frequency lower than 0.001 in the databases. In these patients, the posterior pituitary was also ectopic, but none had polydactyly. A third group of variants found in patients with hypopituitarism were considered benign because their frequency was ≥0.001 in the databases. GLI2 is a large and polymorphic gene, and sequencing may identify variants whose interpretation may be difficult. Incomplete penetrance implies in the participation of other genetic and/or environmental factors. An interaction between Gli2 mutations and prenatal ethanol exposure has been demonstrated in mice dysmorphology. In conclusion, a relatively high frequency of GLI2 mutations and variants were identified in patients with congenital GH deficiency without other brain defects, and most of these patients presented with combined pituitary hormone deficiency and an ectopic posterior pituitary lobe. Future studies may clarify the relative role and frequency of GLI2 alterations in the aetiology of hypopituitarism.

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D Bouton, H Escriva, R L de Mendonça, C Glineur, B Bertin, C Noël, M Robinson-Rechavi, A de Groot, J Cornette, V Laudet, and R J Pierce

Retinoid X receptors (RXR) are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily of ligand-activated transcription factors that have been characterized in a wide variety of metazoan phyla. They act as heterodimer partners of other nuclear receptors, and in vertebrates also activate transcription as homodimers in the presence of a ligand, 9-cis retinoic acid. In order to test the hypothesis that retinoic acid signaling pathways involving RXRs are present in the Lophotrochozoa, we have sought to isolate conserved members of this family from the platyhelminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni and its intermediate host, the mollusk Biomphalaria glabrata. Here we report that an RXR ortholog from B. glabrata (BgRXR) is better conserved, compared with mouse RXRα, both in the DNA-binding domain (89% identity) and in the ligand-binding domain (LBD) (81% identity), than are arthropod homologs. In EMSA, BgRXR binds to the direct repeat response element DR1 as a homodimer or as a heterodimer with mammalian RARα, LXR, FXR or PPARα. When transfected alone into mammalian cell lines, BgRXR transactivated transcription of a reporter gene from the Apo-A1 promoter in the presence of 9-cis retinoic acid or DHA. Constructs with the Gal4 DNA binding domain fused to the hinge and LBDs of BgRXR were used to show that ligand-dependent activation of transcription by BgRXR required its intact AF-2 activation domain, and that the LBD can form homodimers. Finally, the binding of 9-cis retinoic acid preferentially protected the LBD of BgRXR from degradation by trypsin in a proteolysis protection assay. Our results show that BgRXR binds and is activated by retinoids and suggest that retinoid signaling pathways are conserved in the Lophotrochozoa. The nucleotide sequence reported in this paper has been submitted to the GenBank/EBI Data Bank with accession no. AY048663.