Background: The "complex of myxomas, spotty skin pigmentation, and endocrine overactivity," or "Carney complex" (CNC), is caused by inactivating mutations of the regulatory subunit type 1A of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PRKAR1A) gene and as yet unknown defect(s) in other gene(s). Delineation of a genotype-phenotype correlation for CNC patients is essential for understanding PRKAR1A function and providing counseling and preventive care.
Methods: A transatlantic consortium studied the molecular genotype and clinical phenotype of 353 patients (221 females and 132 males, age 34 +/- 19 yr) who carried a germline PRKAR1A mutation or were diagnosed with CNC and/or primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease.
Results: A total of 258 patients (73%) carried 80 different PRKAR1A mutations; 114 (62%) of the index cases had a PRKAR1A mutation. Most PRKAR1A mutations (82%) led to lack of detectable mutant protein (nonexpressed mutations) because of nonsense mRNA mediated decay. Patients with a PRKAR1A mutation were more likely to have pigmented skin lesions, myxomas, and thyroid and gonadal tumors; they also presented earlier with these tumors. Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease occurred earlier, was more frequent in females, and was the only manifestation of CNC with a gender predilection. Mutations located in exons were more often associated with acromegaly, myxomas, lentigines, and schwannomas, whereas the frequent c.491-492delTG mutation was commonly associated with lentigines, cardiac myxomas, and thyroid tumors. Overall, nonexpressed PRKAR1A mutations were associated with less severe disease.
Conclusion: CNC is genetically and clinically heterogeneous. Certain tumors are more frequent, with specific mutations providing some genotype-phenotype correlation for PRKAR1A mutations.