Glucocorticoid-suppressible hyperaldosteronism (GSH), first described in 1966 (Sutherland et al. 1966), is a rare cause of familial hypertension. It presents in young adults with hypertension, hypokalaemia and suppressed plasma renin activity (features caused by the excess activity of aldosterone secretion), and is distinguished from other forms of primary hyperaldosteronism by its autosomal dominant mode of inheritance and the reversal of all its clinical and biochemical abnormalities by the administration of small doses of the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Connell et al. 1986). GSH is also characterized by abnormally elevated levels of 18-hydroxycortisol and 18-oxocortisol, the excretion of which also falls to normal following dexamethasone administration (Chu & Ulick, 1982; Ulick et al. 1983; Gomez-Sanchez et al. 1984). The study of the production of these unusual 18-hydroxylated steroids has led to a reappraisal of the late reactions in aldosterone and cortisol synthesis by the adrenal cortex,
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A Jamieson, J M C Connell, and R Fraser
S Ueda, R P Heeley, K. R Lees, H L Elliott, and J M C Connell
A polymorphism of the gene encoding the human angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), which is defined by an insertion/deletion polymorphism in intron 16, has been identified as a candidate genetic locus in the development of cardiovascular and renal disease.
We have demonstrated that the accuracy of ACE genotyping is critically dependent on the strategy of the PCR used in typing. Of 1238 individuals genotyped by a standard method, 335 were typed as DD, 645 as DI and 258 as II. However, when DD individuals were retyped using modified methods (including either 5% dimethyl sulphoxide, or a 'hot start') 35 of the original 335 samples (10·5%) were retyped as DI.
In approximately half of these mistyped samples, PCR amplification was assessed as inefficient by the absence of a third faint heteroduplex band in a control ID sample: when the assay was repeated without any modifications, the mistyped samples were correctly genotyped. In the remainder, mistyping persisted. In these cases, the use of a third 'nested' PCR primer specific for the I allele was required for successful genotyping, providing a more reliable strategy without the need for further modification to the PCR technique. Our results suggest that the triple primer approach is the method of choice for accurate ACE genotyping.
G C Inglis, C J Kenyon, C Szpirer, K Klinga-Levan, R G Sutcliffe, and J M C Connell
Mouse hepatoma × rat hepatocyte hybrids that segregate rat chromosomes were used to determine the chromosomal location of the rat genes encoding 11 β-hydroxylase and aldosterone synthase (Cyp11b1 and Cyp11b2 respectively). By means of species-specific restriction fragments and microsatellite markers both genes were mapped to rat chromosome 7. The Cyp11b1 microsatellite marker was subsequently found to vary in length between and within rat strains. Furthermore, we compared the sequences of Cyp11b1 markers in two genetically hypertensive strains of rat with their normotensive counterparts. Previous studies have indicated that 11β-hydroxylase activities in Milan and Lyon hypertensive strains are different from their respective genetic controls. The Cyp11b1 microsatellite regions from Lyon hypotensive and normotensive strains of rat were similar and were both shorter by 15 bases than that of the Lyon hypertensive strain. The Cyp11b1 marker in Milan hypertensive (MHS) and normotensive (MNS) strains differ from all the Lyon strains and from each other. The MHS marker is 12 bases shorter than that of MNS rats. These differences in microsatellite length may provide useful polymorphic markers in co-segregation studies of genetic hypertension in rats.
A. R. McLellan, S. Tawil, F. Lyall, G. Milligan, J. M. C. Connell, and C. J. Kenyon
Dexamethasone administration in vitro has been shown to increase adenylyl cyclase activity in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) from renal arteries and in non-vascular cell lines. To investigate whether G proteins are involved in this response, cultured VSMC from mesenteric arteries of Sprague—Dawley rats were incubated in the presence and absence of 10 nm dexamethasone for 24 and 48 h. Basal and stimulated adenylyl cyclase activities were increased by approximately 50% after treatment with dexamethasone. The changes were neither specifically associated with ligands which stimulate adenylyl cyclase catalytic unit via Gs (isoproterenol and prostaglandin E1) nor with guanylylimidodiphosphate (0·1 nm), which inhibits the catalytic unit via Gi. This suggests that dexamethasone enhances adenylyl cyclase activity through changes at the level of the catalytic unit, rather than through the G proteins which modulate its activity. No differences were seen in immunoblotting studies of the levels of Giα2, Gsα, Giα3 and β subunits. Similarly, dexamethasone had no effect on the expression of mRNA for Giα2 and Gsα.
The results indicate that glucocorticoid-induced increases of adenylyl cyclase activity are due to changes at the level of the adenylyl cyclase catalytic unit rather than alteration of the levels or turnover of Gsα, Giα2, Giα3 and β subunits in the membranes of VSMC.