Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) comprises a family of inherited human disorders caused by a defect in cortisol biosynthesis. We previously reported absent cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme cytochrome P450 (P450scc) expression in rabbits affected with CAH. Further molecular studies via Southern blotting analyses, using a fulllength human P450scc cDNA probe and a cloned rabbit P450scc cDNA probe, demonstrated the absence of P450scc DNA fragments in CAH animals. Reverse transcriptase-based polymerase chain reactions revealed that P450scc mRNA was not detectable in the adrenals of CAH rabbits, confirming the previous findings of absent P450scc gene expression by Northern and Western blotting. Cloning and sequencing of a 1336-basepair fragment of rabbit P450scc cDNA (85% of the coding sequence) revealed an approximately 80% identical nucleotide sequence and a 76% identical amino acid sequence compared to the human P450scc cDNA. We conclude that a large deletion mutation in the P450scc gene is most likely responsible for the absent P450scc gene expression resulting in the lethal and feminizing form of CAH in the rabbit. Further investigation of adrenal and gonadal steroidogenic enzyme gene expression in this CAH animal model will provide a greater understanding of the molecular genetics of CAH, while wild-type P450scc gene transfer experiments using CAH adrenals in vitro or in vivo will ultimately characterize the molecular basis of CAH and provide a foundation for CAH gene therapy modality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas