BACKGROUND: Pseudohypoparathyroidism type Ib (PHPIb) is characterized by parathyroid hormone (PTH) resistance, which can lead to hypocalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, and increased serum PTH. The disorder is caused by mutations in regulatory regions of the GNAS gene (GNAS complex locus) that lead to interferences in the methylation status of alternative GNAS promoters, such as exon A/B, NESP55, and XLα-s. PHPIb comprises disorders that show distinctive changes in methylation status but share the same clinical phenotype: (a) loss of methylation only at exon A/B of the GNAS gene and involving no other obvious epigenetic abnormalities [e.g., those caused by heterozygous microdeletions in the STX16 (syntaxin 16) region and found in many patients with autosomal dominant (AD) PHPIb]; (b) methylation abnormalities at several differentially methylated regions (DMRs), which are observed in most patients with sporadic PHPIb and some families with AD PHPIb. METHODS: To permit early and reliable diagnosis of suspected PHPIb, we designed methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme-based and bisulfite deamination-based PCR tests for exon A/B and NESP55 DMRs. RESULTS: Both PCR strategies permit proper methylation testing of GNAS and NESP55 DMRs and elucidate different disease subtypes. We have identified a novel microsatellite repeat polymorphism within GNAS exon A/B, and pedigree analyses have shown its presence to be conclusive evidence for familial disease. CONCLUSIONS: We provide a simple diagnostic test for PHPIb, an imprinting disorder caused by different molecular changes within the GNAS complex locus. PHPIb, a complex and diagnostically challenging clinical phenotype, can be treated successfully by taking steps before the manifestation of symptoms to avoid clinical complications in affected patients or asymptomatic members of affected families who show positive results in genetic tests.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)