G(s)alpha mutations in fibrous dysplasia and McCune-Albright syndrome

J Bone Miner Res. 2006 Dec:21 Suppl 2:P120-4. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.06s223.


Fibrous dysplasia (FD) is a focal bone lesion composed of immature mesenchymal osteoblastic precursor cells. Some FD patients also have hyperpigmented skin lesions (café-au-lait spots), gonadotropin-independent sexual precocity, and/or other endocrine and nonendocrine manifestations (McCune-Albright syndrome [MAS]). MAS results from somatic mutations occurring during early development, resulting in a widespread mosaic of normal and mutant-bearing cells, which predicts that the clinical presentation of each patient is determined by the extent and distribution of abnormal cells. These mutations encode constitutively active forms of G(s)alpha, the ubiquitously expressed G protein alpha-subunit that couples hormone receptors to intracellular cAMP generation. These mutations lead to substitution of amino acid residues that are critical for the intrinsic GTPase activity that is normally required to deactivate the G protein. This leads to prolonged activation of G(s)alpha and its downstream effectors even with minimal receptor activation. This explains why MAS patients have stimulation of multiple peripheral endocrine glands in the absence of circulating stimulatory pituitary hormones and increased skin pigment, which is normally induced by melanocyte-stimulating hormone through G(s)alpha/cAMP. Similar mutations are also present in 40% of pituitary tumors in acromegaly patients and less commonly in other endocrine tumors. FD results from increased cAMP in bone marrow stromal cells, leading to increased proliferation and abnormal differentiation. Parental origin of the mutated allele may also affect the clinical presentation, because G(s)alpha is imprinted and expressed only from the maternal allele in some tissues (e.g., pituitary somatotrophs).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Endocrine Gland Neoplasms / complications
  • Fibrous Dysplasia of Bone / complications
  • Fibrous Dysplasia of Bone / genetics*
  • Fibrous Dysplasia, Polyostotic / complications
  • Fibrous Dysplasia, Polyostotic / genetics*
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation*


  • Cyclic AMP
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs