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The Dwarfs of Sindh: severe growth hormone (GH) deficiency caused by a mutation in the GH‐releasing hormone receptor gene

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We report the discovery of a cluster of severe familial dwarfism in two villages in the Province of Sindh in Pakistan. Dwarfism is proportionate and occurs in members of a kindred with a high degree of consanguinity. Only the last generation is affected, with the oldest dwarf being 28 years old. The mode of inheritance is autosomal recessive. Phenotype analysis and endocrine testing revealed isolated growth hormone deficiency (GHD) as the reason for growth failure. Linkage analysis for the loci of several candidate genes yielded a high lod score for the growth hormone‐releasing hormone receptor (GHRH‐R) locus on chromosome 7. Amplification and sequencing of the GHRH‐R gene in affected subjects demonstrated an amber nonsense mutation (GAG → TAG; Glu50 → Stop) in exon 3. The mutation, in its homozygous form, segregated 100% with the dwarf phenotype. It predicts a truncation of the GHRH‐R in its extracellular domain, which is likely to result in a severely disabled or non‐existent receptor protein. Subjects who are heterozygous for the mutation show mild biochemical abnormalities in the growth hormone‐releasing hormone (GHRH)–growth hormone—insulin‐like growth factor axis, but have only minimal or no growth retardation. The occurrence of an offspring of two dwarfed parents indicates that the GHRH‐R is not necessary for fertility in either sex. We conclude that Sindh dwarfism is caused by an inactivating mutation in the GHRH‐R gene, resulting in the inability to transmit a GHRH signal and consequent severe isolated GHD. □ Growth hormone deficiency, growth hormone‐releasing hormone receptor, nonsense mutation, dwarfism

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: Center for Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Publication date: 1997-11-01

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