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J Hypertens Suppl. 1996 Dec;14(5):S19-24.

Human hypertension caused by mutations in the 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase gene: a molecular analysis of apparent mineralocorticoid excess.

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Molecular Programming Group, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, UK.



11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta-HSD) is a microsomal enzyme complex which, in humans, catalyses the interconversion between biologically active cortisol and inactive cortisone. This prereceptor signalling mechanism is essential for maintaining the aldosterone selectivity of the intrinsically non-specific mineralocorticoid receptor and for modulating glucocorticoid access to the glucocorticoid receptor. Apparent mineralocorticoid excess (AME) is a syndrome of severe low-renin mineralocorticoid hypertension associated with marked hypokalaemia which arises from a congenital deficiency of 11 beta-HSD. In AME patients, therefore, it is cortisol and not aldosterone which behaves as a potent mineralocorticoid. ISOFORMS OF 11 BETA-HSD: Two isoforms of human 11 beta-HSD have now been characterized and cloned. The type 1 isoform (11 beta-HSD1) is a low-affinity reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) dependent dehydrogenase-oxoreductase which is expressed in predominantly glucocorticoid target tissues and the encoding sequence of which is normal in patients with AME. In contrast, the type 2 isoform (11 beta-HSD2) is a high-affinity NADP-dependent unidirectional dehydrogenase which is expressed in placenta and mineralocorticoid target tissues such as renal collecting ducts and distal colonic epithelia. Exon- and intron-specific polymerase chain reaction amplification of the 11 beta-HSD2 gene from genomic DNA from members of a consanguinous kindred with AME consistently revealed a single missense mutation (C1228T) in two affected sibs and twin stillbirths. This mutation in codon 374 of exon 5 of the 11 beta-HSD2 gene creates an inframe premature stop (TGA) and, as such, results in a truncated 11 beta-HSD2 protein lacking the carboxyl-terminal proline-rich 32 amino acids. In keeping with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, both parents were phenotypically and biochemically normal but were heterozygous for this mutation. Unique to this kindred were expression analyses of the native mutant 11 beta-HSD2 enzyme in the stillbirth-affected placenta, which was almost completely devoid of NADP-dependent 11 beta-dehydrogenase activity. Immunohistochemical and Western blot analyses revealed the absence of 11 beta-HSD2 protein using antisera raised against synthetic peptide sequences corresponding either to the carboxyl terminus or other domains of the enzyme.


In this kindred with AME, congenital deficiency of 11 beta-HSD activity is due to a single missense mutation in exon 5 of the 11 beta-HSD2 gene. Simultaneous studies by two other groups have similarly revealed no gross deletions or rearrangements of the 11 beta-HSD2 gene, but have described a number of single point mutations and oligonucleotide deletions in exons 3, 4 and 5, and adjacent to a splice site in intron 3. Recombinant expression analysis of site-directed mutant 11 beta-HSD2 complementary DNA constructs suggests a correlation between the predicted severity of these mutations and the biochemical and clinical phenotype.


The mutations in the 11 beta-HSD2 gene, together with those currently being sought by us for other kindreds with AME, establishes AME as a monogenic cause of human hypertension and will provide insight into the structure-function relationships of this important enzyme.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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