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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

How a patient homozygous for a 30-kb deletion of the C4-CYP 21 genomic region can have a nonclassic form of 21-hydroxylase deficiency.

A case of nonclassic (NC) 21-hydroxylase deficiency, with a moderately elevated 17-hydroxyprogesterone level (145 nmol/L in filter paper blood spot), was detected in newborn screening. The newborn's phenotype was female, with no sign of virilization. Confirmatory diagnosis revealed elevated serum levels of 17-hydroxyprogesterone and of 21-desoxycortisol, whereas cortisol, PRA, and electrolytes were normal. Hydrocortisone substitution was considered at the age of 6 months, when virilization became obvious. For clinical reasons, this case had to be classified as late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) with unusually early manifestation. However, the diagnosis of classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency was obtained by Southern blotting studies, showing that she was homozygous for the 30-kb deletion, including the 3' end of CYP21P pseudogene, the C4B gene, and the 5' end of the functional CYP21 gene. Further studies, using PCR and sequencing, were conducted to explain the discrepancy between this genotype, usually associated with a classic salt-wasting form, and the girl's phenotype. Typically, patients homozygous for the 30-kb deletion encoding classic CAH possess a unique CYP21P/21 hybrid gene with the junction site located after the third exon, yielding a nonfunctional pseudogene. The girl in question, however, was heterozygous for the 8-bp deletion, suggesting that the chimeric pseudogene on one allele had a junction site before the third exon. She was compound heterozygous for a 30-kb deletion encoding classic CAH on the paternal allele, and a 30-kb deletion encoding NC CAH on the maternal allele. This novel maternal CYP21P/21 hybrid gene is characterized by a junction site before intron 2 and differs from the normal CYP21 gene only by the P30L mutation in exon 1 and the promoter region of the CYP21P pseudogene. Because the P30L mutation has been described to result in an enzyme with 30-60% activity of the normal P450c21 enzyme, and the CYP21P promoter reduced the transcription to 20% of normal, this puzzling phenotype of a NC CAH with early onset may be fully explained by the genotype of the patient and considered as an intermediate form between the simple virilizing and NC form.[1]


  1. How a patient homozygous for a 30-kb deletion of the C4-CYP 21 genomic region can have a nonclassic form of 21-hydroxylase deficiency. L'Allemand, D., Tardy, V., Grüters, A., Schnabel, D., Krude, H., Morel, Y. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (2000) [Pubmed]
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