J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jun;96(6):E1035-43. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-0145. Epub 2011 Apr 6.
Aromatase excess syndrome: identification of cryptic duplications and deletions leading to gain of function of CYP19A1 and assessment of phenotypic determinants.
CONTEXT: Aromatase excess syndrome (AEXS) is a rare autosomal dominant disorder characterized by gynecomastia. Although cryptic inversions leading to abnormal fusions between CYP19A1 encoding aromatase and its neighboring genes have been identified in a few patients, the molecular basis remains largely unknown.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to examine the genetic causes and phenotypic determinants in AEXS.
PATIENTS: Eighteen affected males from six families participated in the study.
RESULTS: We identified three types of heterozygous genomic rearrangements, i.e. a 79,156-bp tandem duplication involving seven of 11 noncoding CYP19A1 exons 1, a 211,631-bp deletion involving exons 2-43 of DMXL2 and exons 5-10 of GLDN, and a 165,901-bp deletion involving exons 2-43 of DMXL2. The duplicated exon 1 functioned as transcription start sites, and the two types of deletions produced the same chimeric mRNA consisting of DMXL2 exon 1 and CYP19A1 coding exons. The DMXL2 exon 1 harbored a translation start codon, and the DMXL2/CYP19A1 chimeric mRNA was identified in only 2-5% of CYP19A1-positive transcripts. This was in contrast to the inversion-mediated chimeric mRNA that had no coding sequence on the fused exon 1 and accounted for greater than 80% of CYP19A1-positive transcripts. CYP19A1 was expressed in a limited number of tissues, whereas its neighboring genes involved in the chimeric mRNA formation were expressed widely.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides novel mechanisms leading to gain of function of CYP19A1. Furthermore, it appears that clinical severity of AEXS is primarily determined by the tissue expression pattern of relevant genes and by the structural property of promoter-associated exons of chimeric mRNA.