Background: Chrousos syndrome is a rare pathologic condition characterized by generalized, partial resistance of target tissues to glucocorticoids and caused by inactivating mutations of the human glucocorticoid receptor (hGR) gene. A novel case of Chrousos syndrome has been reported in a patient with adrenal incidentaloma, who harboured a heterozygous point mutation in the hGR gene, which resulted in threonine (T) to isoleucine (I) substitution at amino acid position 556 in the ligand-binding domain of the receptor.
Objective: To delineate the molecular mechanisms through which the mutant receptor hGRαT556I causes Chrousos syndrome.
Design and results: Compared with the wild-type receptor, the mutant receptor hGRαT556I demonstrated 50% reduction in its ability to transactivate glucocorticoid-responsive genes and in the affinity for the ligand, 30% increase in the ability to transrepress the nuclear factor-κB-target genes and a 3,4-fold delay in the cytoplasmic-to-nuclear translocation. The mutant receptor hGRαT556I did not exert a dominant negative effect upon the hGRα-mediated transcriptional activity; it preserved its ability to bind to DNA and interacted with the glucocorticoid receptor-interacting protein 1 coactivator mostly through its activation function-1 domain. Structural biology studies revealed that the T556I mutation caused disruption of the hydrogen bond formed by the T556 with the =O group of P637 backbone, which resulted in a significant relocation of the P637-bearing loop. This conformational alteration affected the local 3D arrangement of the receptor and hence the electrostatic surface of the region.
Conclusions: The hGRαT556I causes Chrousos syndrome by impairing multiple steps of the glucocorticoid signal transduction pathway.
Keywords: Chrousos syndrome; glucocorticoid receptor; glucocorticoid signalling; hGR mutations.
© 2015 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.