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  • Author: Maria Adelaide A Pereira x
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Rodrigo A Toledo, Yuejuan Qin, Subramanya Srikantan, Nicole Paes Morales, Qun Li, Yilun Deng, Sang-Woo Kim, Maria Adelaide A Pereira, Sergio P A Toledo, Xiaoping Su, Ricardo C T Aguiar, and Patricia L M Dahia

Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas are highly vascular tumors of the autonomic nervous system. Germline mutations, including those in hypoxia-related genes, occur in one third of the cases, but somatic mutations are infrequent in these tumors. Using exome sequencing of six paired constitutive and tumor DNA from sporadic pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, we identified a somatic mutation in the HIF2A (EPAS1) gene. Screening of an additional 239 pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas uncovered three other HIF2A variants in sporadic (4/167, 2.3%) but not in hereditary tumors or controls. Three of the mutations involved proline 531, one of the two residues that controls HIF2α stability by hydroxylation. The fourth mutation, on Ser71, was adjacent to the DNA binding domain. No mutations were detected in the homologous regions of the HIF1A gene in 132 tumors. Mutant HIF2A tumors had increased expression of HIF2 α target genes, suggesting an activating effect of the mutations. Ectopically expressed HIF2 α mutants in HEK293, renal cell carcinoma 786-0, or rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cell lines showed increased stability, resistance to VHL-mediated degradation, target induction, and reduced chromaffin cell differentiation. Furthermore, mice injected with cells expressing mutant HIF2A developed tumors, and those with Pro531Thr and Pro531Ser mutations had shorter latency than tumors from mice with wild-type HIF2A. Our results support a direct oncogenic role for HIF2A in human neoplasia and strengthen the link between hypoxic pathways and pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

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Marcela Rassi-Cruz, Andrea G Maria, Fabio R Faucz, Edra London, Leticia A P Vilela, Lucas S Santana, Anna Flavia F Benedetti, Tatiana S Goldbaum, Fabio Y Tanno, Vitor Srougi, Jose L Chambo, Maria Adelaide A Pereira, Aline C B S Cavalcante, Francisco C Carnevale, Bruna Pilan, Luiz A Bortolotto, Luciano F Drager, Antonio M Lerario, Ana Claudia Latronico, Maria Candida B V Fragoso, Berenice B Mendonca, Maria Claudia N Zerbini, Constantine A Stratakis, and Madson Q Almeida

Abstract

Familial primary aldosteronism (PA) is rare and mostly diagnosed in early-onset hypertension (HT). However, ‘sporadic’ bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BAH) is the most frequent cause of PA and remains without genetic etiology in most cases. Our aim was to investigate new genetic defects associated with BAH and PA. We performed whole-exome sequencing (paired blood and adrenal tissue) in six patients with PA caused by BAH that underwent unilateral adrenalectomy. Additionally, we conducted functional studies in adrenal hyperplastic tissue and transfected cells to confirm the pathogenicity of the identified genetic variants. Rare germline variants in phosphodiesterase 2A (PDE2A) and 3B (PDE3B) genes were identified in three patients. The PDE2A heterozygous variant (p.Ile629Val) was identified in a patient with BAH and early-onset HT at 13 years of age. Two PDE3B heterozygous variants (p.Arg217Gln and p.Gly392Val) were identified in patients with BAH and HT diagnosed at 18 and 33 years of age, respectively. A strong PDE2A staining was found in all cases of BAH in zona glomerulosa and/or micronodules (that were also positive for CYP11B2). PKA activity in frozen tissue was significantly higher in BAH from patients harboring PDE2A and PDE3B variants. PDE2A and PDE3B variants significantly reduced protein expression in mutant transfected cells compared to WT. Interestingly, PDE2A and PDE3B variants increased SGK1 and SCNN1G/ENaCg at mRNA or protein levels. In conclusion, PDE2A and PDE3B variants were associated with PA caused by BAH. These novel genetic findings expand the spectrum of genetic etiologies of PA.