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Molecular defects in pseudohypoparathyroidism or related disorders

Maintaining calcium levels within a narrow normal range is of critical importance for numerous different cellular functions. One of the most important regulators of blood calcium levels is parathyroid hormone (PTH), which mediates its actions through the PTH/PTHrP receptor, a Gαs-coupled receptor. Few inherited disorders are characterized by diminished blood calcium levels and elevated blood phosphate levels; some of these disorders are caused by too little PTH synthesis and/or secretion (hypoparathyroidism, HP), while others are caused by resistance towards PTH (pseudohypoparathyroidism, PHP). Only few of the inherited forms of HP (<10%) have been defined at the molecular level. In contrast, genetic mutations have been identified for several inherited forms of PHP. For example, PHP type Ia (PHP-Ia) is caused by maternally inherited mutations in those GNAS exons that encode Gαs, while autosomal dominant PHP type Ib (AD-PHP-Ib) is caused by maternal inherited deletions within or up-stream of GNAS, which are associated with abnormal GNAS methylation. However, a large number of patients with PTH-resistance and thus hypocalcemia show GNAS methylation changes, but their underlying genetic defects have not yet been defined at the DNA level. These "sporadic" patients may be affected by an autosomal recessive form of PHP-Ib (AR-PHP-Ib), which is most likely not linked to the GNAS locus. In our studies, we propose to search through exome sequence analyses for novel genetic mutations responsible for novel autosomal dominant forms of HP that are not caused by mutations in the known disease-causing genes; some of these families are large enough to perform genetic linkage studies. We furthermore propose to search for the genetic mutation(s) responsible for the autosomal recessive variant of PHP-Ib through the analysis of whole exome sequences; for these studies we focus particularly on patients, whose parents are likely to be consanguineous. The proposed efforts are expected to lead to the identification of novel genes that are involved in parathyroid development and function (HP) and genes that are involved in the establishment or maintenance of GNAS methylation (AR-PHP-Ib).