P450 oxidoreductase deficiency: a new disorder of steroidogenesis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1061:100-8. doi: 10.1196/annals.1336.012.


Microsomal P450 enzymes, which metabolize drugs and catalyze steroid biosynthesis require electron donation from NADPH via P450 oxidoreductase (POR). POR knockout mice are embryonically lethal, but we found recessive human POR missense mutations causing disordered steroidogenesis and Antley-Bixler syndrome (ABS), a skeletal malformation syndrome featuring craniosynostosis. Dominant mutations in exons 8 and 10 of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) cause phenotypically related craniosynostosis syndromes and were reported in patients with ABS and normal steroidogenesis. Sequencing POR and FGFR2 exons in 32 patients with ABS and/or hormonal findings suggesting POR deficiency showed complete genetic segregation of POR and FGFR2 mutations. Fifteen patients carried POR mutations on both alleles, four carried POR mutations on 1 allele, nine carried FGFR2/3 mutations on one allele and no mutation was found in three patients. The 34 affected POR alleles included 10 with A287P, 7 with R457H, 9 other missense mutations and 7 frameshifts. These 11 missense mutations and 10 others identified by database mining were expressed in E. coli, purified to apparent homogeneity, and their catalytic capacities were measured in four assays: reduction of cytochrome c, oxidation of NADPH, and support of the 17alpha-hydroxylase and 17,20 lyase activities of human P450c17. As assessed by Vmax/Km, 17,20 lyase activity provided the best correlation with clinical findings. Modeling human POR on the X-ray crystal structure of rat POR shows that these mutant activities correlate well with their locations in the structure. POR deficiency is a new disease, distinct from the craniosynostosis syndromes caused by FGFR mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / enzymology
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Craniosynostoses / enzymology
  • Craniosynostoses / genetics*
  • Craniosynostoses / metabolism
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / deficiency*
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / genetics*
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / metabolism
  • Point Mutation
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2 / genetics
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Steroids / biosynthesis*
  • Syndrome


  • Steroids
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase
  • FGFR2 protein, human
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2