Context: Mutations have been identified in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene in familial isolated pituitary adenomas (FIPA). It is not clear, however, how this molecular chaperone is involved in tumorigenesis.
Objective: AIP sequence changes and expression were studied in FIPA and sporadic adenomas. The function of normal and mutated AIP molecules was studied on cell proliferation and protein-protein interaction. Cellular and ultrastructural AIP localization was determined in pituitary cells.
Patients: Twenty-six FIPA kindreds and 85 sporadic pituitary adenoma patients were included in the study.
Results: Nine families harbored AIP mutations. Overexpression of wild-type AIP in TIG3 and HEK293 human fibroblast and GH3 pituitary cell lines dramatically reduced cell proliferation, whereas mutant AIP lost this ability. All the mutations led to a disruption of the protein-protein interaction between AIP and phosphodiesterase-4A5. In normal pituitary, AIP colocalizes exclusively with GH and prolactin, and it is found in association with the secretory vesicle, as shown by double-immunofluorescence and electron microscopy staining. In sporadic pituitary adenomas, however, AIP is expressed in all tumor types. In addition, whereas AIP is expressed in the secretory vesicle in GH-secreting tumors, similar to normal GH-secreting cells, in lactotroph, corticotroph, and nonfunctioning adenomas, it is localized to the cytoplasm and not in the secretory vesicles.
Conclusions: Our functional evaluation of AIP mutations is consistent with a tumor-suppressor role for AIP and its involvement in familial acromegaly. The abnormal expression and subcellular localization of AIP in sporadic pituitary adenomas indicate deranged regulation of this protein during tumorigenesis.