Leydig cell hypoplasia (LCH) is characterized by a decreased response of the Leydig cells to LH. As a result, patients with this syndrome display aberrant male development ranging from complete pseudohermaphroditism to males with micropenis but with otherwise normal sex characteristics. We have evaluated three brothers with a mild form of LCH. Analysis of their LH receptor (LHR) gene revealed a homozygous missense mutation resulting in a substitution of a lysine residue for a isoleucine residue at position 625 of the receptor. In vitro analysis of this mutant LHR, LHR(I625K), in HEK293 cells indicated that the signaling efficiency was significantly impaired, which explains the partial phenotype. We have compared this mutant LHR to two other mutant LHRs, LHR(A593P) and LHR(S616Y), identified in a complete and partial LCH patient, respectively. Although the ligand-binding affinity for all three mutant receptors was normal, the hormonal response of LHR(A593P) was completely absent and that of LHR(S616Y) and LHR(I625K) was severely impaired. Low cell surface expression explained the reduced response of LHR(S616Y), while for LHR(I625K) this diminished response was due to a combination of low cell surface expression and decreased coupling efficiency. For LHR(A593P), the absence of a reduced response resulted from both poor cell surface expression and a complete deficiency in coupling. Our experiments further show a clear correlation between the severity of the clinical phenotype of patients and overall receptor signal capacity, which is a combination of cell surface expression and coupling efficiency.

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Molecular Endocrinology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Martens, J., Verhoef-Post, M., Abelin, N., Ezabella, M., Toledo, R., Brunner, H., & Themmen, A. (1998). A homozygous mutation in the luteinizing hormone receptor causes partial Leydig cell hypopla phenotype. Molecular Endocrinology. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/8843