European Journal of Endocrinology

 In-frame seven amino-acid duplication in AIP arose over the last 3000 years, disrupts protein interaction and stability and is associated with gigantism
 
Objective

Mutations in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene are associated with pituitary adenoma, acromegaly and gigantism. Identical alleles in unrelated pedigrees could be inherited from a common ancestor or result from recurrent mutation events.

Design and methods

Observational, inferential and experimental study, including: AIP mutation testing; reconstruction of 14 AIP-region (8.3 Mbp) haplotypes; coalescent-based approximate Bayesian estimation of the time to most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) of the derived allele; forward population simulations to estimate current number of allele carriers; proposal of mutation mechanism; protein structure predictions; co-immunoprecipitation and cycloheximide chase experiments.

Results

Nine European-origin, unrelated c.805_825dup-positive pedigrees (four familial, five sporadic from the UK, USA and France) included 16 affected (nine gigantism/four acromegaly/two non-functioning pituitary adenoma patients and one prospectively diagnosed acromegaly patient) and nine unaffected carriers. All pedigrees shared a 2.79 Mbp haploblock around AIP with additional haploblocks privately shared between subsets of the pedigrees, indicating the existence of an evolutionarily recent common ancestor, the ‘English founder’, with an estimated median tMRCA of 47 generations (corresponding to 1175 years) with a confidence interval (9–113 generations, equivalent to 225–2825 years). The mutation occurred in a small tandem repeat region predisposed to slipped strand mispairing. The resulting seven amino-acid duplication disrupts interaction with HSP90 and leads to a marked reduction in protein stability.

Conclusions

The c.805_825dup allele, originating from a common ancestor, associates with a severe clinical phenotype and a high frequency of gigantism. The mutation is likely to be the result of slipped strand mispairing and affects protein–protein interactions and AIP protein stability.