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Leelamma M Panicker, Jian-Hua Zhang, Pradeep K Dagur, Matthew J Gastinger, and William F Simonds

The hyperparathyroidism–jaw tumor syndrome (HPT–JT) is a familial cancer syndrome that can result from germline inactivation of HRPT2/CDC73, a putative tumor suppressor gene that encodes parafibromin, a component of the transcriptional regulatory PAF1 complex with homology to the yeast protein Cdc73p. The vast majority of HRPT2/CDC73 germline mutations identified have been truncation or frameshift mutations, and loss of function due to missense mutation is rare. We report here a kindred with HPT–JT due to a germline L95P missense mutation in parafibromin. The mutant parafibromin was studied in vitro to understand the basis of its presumed loss-of-function. When transfected in cultured cells, the L95P mutant was expressed to a lower level than wild-type (wt) parafibromin, a difference that was not overcome by inhibition of the proteasomal degradation pathway. The L95P mutant parafibromin retained the ability to assemble with endogenous PAF1 complex components as evidenced by co-immunoprecipitation. Analysis of subcellular localization showed that the L95P mutant was markedly deficient in nucleolar localization compared to the wt, an impairment likely resulting from disruption of a putative nucleolar localization signal immediately upstream of the L95P mutation. Transfection of the L95P parafibromin mutant, but not the wt, enhanced cell cycle progression and increased cell survival in NIH-3T3 and HEK 293 cells, resulting apparently from dominant interference with endogenous parafibromin action. The simultaneous loss of nucleolar localization and acquisition of a growth stimulatory phenotype with the L95P mutation raise the possibility that parafibromin must interact with targets in the nucleolus to fully execute its tumor suppressor functions.

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Yulong Li, Jianhua Zhang, Poorni R Adikaram, James Welch, Bin Guan, Lee S Weinstein, Haobin Chen, and William F Simonds

Mutation of the CDC73 gene, which encodes parafibromin, has been linked with parathyroid cancer. However, no correlation between genotypes of germline CDC73 mutations and the risk of parathyroid cancer has been known. In this study, subjects with germline CDC73 mutations were identified from the participants of two clinical protocols at National Institutes of Health (Discovery Cohort) and from the literature (Validation Cohort). The relative risk of developing parathyroid cancer was analyzed as a function of CDC73 genotype, and the impact of representative mutations on structure of parafibromin was compared between genotype groups. A total of 419 subjects, 68 in Discovery Cohort and 351 in Validation Cohort, were included. In both cohorts, percentages of CDC73 germline mutations that predicted significant conformational disruption or loss of expression of parafibromin (referred as ‘high-impact mutations’) were significantly higher among the subjects with parathyroid cancers compared to all other subjects. The Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that high-impact mutations were associated with a 6.6-fold higher risk of parathyroid carcinoma compared to low-impact mutations, despite a similar risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism between two groups. Disruption of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of parafibromin is directly involved in predisposition to parathyroid carcinoma, since only the mutations impacting this domain were associated with an increased risk of parathyroid carcinoma. Structural analysis revealed that a conserved surface structure in the CTD is universally disrupted by the mutations affecting this domain. In conclusion, high-impact germline CDC73 mutations were found to increase risk of parathyroid carcinoma by disrupting the CTD of parafibromin.