Nonclassic steroid 21-hydroxylase deficiency is a frequent, relatively mild disorder of cortisol biosynthesis characterized by variable signs of postnatal androgen excess. It is inherited as an allelic variant of the CYP21B gene encoding the 21-hydroxylase enzyme. CYP21B is located in the HLA histocompatibility complex, and a nonclassic allele is often associated with characteristic HLA antigens: B14;DR1. A CYP21B gene from a HLA-B14;DR1 homozygous patient with nonclassic 21-hydroxylase deficiency was cloned and analyzed. Five deviations from the normal sequence of CYP21B were found, but only one appeared likely to affect the functional integrity of the protein: codon 281, GTG, encoding valine, was changed to TTG, leucine. An oligonucleotide probe was constructed corresponding to the mutant sequence surrounding codon 281 and hybridized with DNA samples digested with restriction endonuclease Taq I. Samples from 8 nonclassic 21-hydroxylase deficiency patients carrying HLA-B14;DR1 contained a hybridizing fragment 3700 base-pairs long, indicating presence of the val-281 mutation in the CYP21B gene. In contrast, unaffected individuals and one patient who lacked HLA-B14;DR1 showed no evidence of the val-281 mutation in CYP21B. We conclude that the codon 281 mutation is a consistent molecular genetic marker for nonclassic 21-hydroxylase deficiency associated with HLA-B14;DR1.
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