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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Sep 1;89(17):8327-31.

Glucocorticoid-suppressible hyperaldosteronism results from hybrid genes created by unequal crossovers between CYP11B1 and CYP11B2.

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Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Cornell University Medical Center, New York, NY 10021.


Glucocorticoid-suppressible hyperaldosteronism (GSH) is an autosomal dominant form of familial hypertension. The biochemical abnormalities seen in this disorder may be remedied by administration of dexamethasone, implying that aldosterone synthesis is being abnormally regulated by corticotropin. The final three steps of aldosterone synthesis, 11 beta- and 18-hydroxylation and 18-oxidation, are mediated by a cytochrome P450 in the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex termed CYP11B2. A related isozyme in the zona fasciculata, CYP11B1, is required for cortisol synthesis; this isozyme, which is normally expressed at much higher levels than CYP11B2, only has 11 beta-hydroxylase activity. These isozymes are encoded by genes on human chromosome 8q22. We have now studied four unrelated patients with GSH. We found that each patient has one chromosome that carries three CYP11B genes instead of two. This has presumably been generated by unequal meiotic crossing-over. The extra gene is a hybrid with 5' regulatory and coding regions corresponding to CYP11B1 and 3' coding regions from CYP11B2. The breakpoint is in intron 2 in two cases, intron 3 in one, and exon 4 in one. Cells transfected with hybrid cDNAs containing up to the first three exons of CYP11B1 synthesized aldosterone at levels near that of cells carrying normal CYP11B2, but cells transfected with hybrids containing the first five or more exons of CYP11B1 could not synthesize detectable amounts of aldosterone. These data demonstrate that GSH is caused by expression of a gene that is regulated like CYP11B1 but that encodes a protein able to synthesize aldosterone.

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