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J Biomed Sci. 2009 Jan 8;16:3. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-16-3.

A novel 9-bp insertion detected in steroid 21-hydroxylase gene (CYP21A2): prediction of its structural and functional implications by computational methods.

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Department of Molecular Endocrinology, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Indian Council of Medical Research, J M Street, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.



Steroid 21-hydroxylase deficiency is the most common cause of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Detection of underlying mutations in CYP21A2 gene encoding steroid 21-hydroxylase enzyme is helpful both for confirmation of diagnosis and management of CAH patients. Here we report a novel 9-bp insertion in CYP21A2 gene and its structural and functional consequences on P450c21 protein by molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulations methods.


A 30-day-old child was referred to our laboratory for molecular diagnosis of CAH. Sequencing of the entire CYP21A2 gene revealed a novel insertion (duplication) of 9-bp in exon 2 of one allele and a well-known mutation I172N in exon 4 of other allele. Molecular modeling and simulation studies were carried out to understand the plausible structural and functional implications caused by the novel mutation.


Insertion of the nine bases in exon 2 resulted in addition of three valine residues at codon 71 of the P450c21 protein. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the mutant exhibits a faster unfolding kinetics and an overall destabilization of the structure due to the triple valine insertion was also observed.


The novel 9-bp insertion in exon 2 of CYP21A2 genesignificantly lowers the structural stability of P450c21 thereby leading to the probable loss of its function.

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