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Open access

Sumana Chatterjee, Emily Cottrell, Stephen J Rose, Talat Mushtaq, Avinaash V Maharaj, Jack Williams, Martin O Savage, Louise A Metherell and Helen L Storr

Objectives

The homozygous GH receptor (GHR) pseudoexon (6Ψ) mutation leads to growth hormone insensitivity (GHI) with clinical and biochemical heterogeneity. We investigated whether transcript heterogeneity (6Ψ-GHR to WT-GHR transcript ratio) and/or concurrent defects in other short stature (SS) genes contribute to this.

Methods

6Ψ-GHR and WT-GHR mRNA transcripts of four 6Ψ patients (height SDS −4.2 to −3.1) and one control fibroblast were investigated by RT-PCR. Transcripts were quantified by qRT-PCR and delta delta CT analysis and compared using ANOVA with Bonferroni correction. In eleven 6Ψ patients, 40 genes known to cause GHI/SS were analysed by targeted next generation sequencing.

Results

RT-PCR confirmed 6Ψ-GHR transcript in the 6Ψ patients but not in the control. 6Ψ-GHR transcript levels were comparable in patients 1 and 3 but significantly different among all other patients. The mean 6Ψ:WT transcript ratios ranged from 29–71:1 for patients 1–4 and correlated negatively with height SDS (R = −0.85; P < 0.001). Eight deleterious variants in six genes were detected, but the number of gene hits did not correlate with the degree of SS in individual 6Ψ patients.

Conclusion

Variable amounts of 6Ψ- and WT-GHR transcripts were identified in 6Ψ patients but no 6Ψ transcript was present in the control. Higher 6Ψ:WT-GHR transcript ratio correlated with SS severity and may explain the phenotypic variability. Analysis of known SS genes suggested that phenotypic variation is independent of the genetic background. This is the first report of transcript heterogeneity producing a spectrum of clinical phenotypes in different individuals harbouring an identical homozygous genetic mutation.

Open access

Stephen A Martin, Kenneth A Philbrick, Carmen P Wong, Dawn A Olson, Adam J Branscum, Donald B Jump, Charles K Marik, Jonathan M DenHerder, Jennifer L Sargent, Russell T Turner and Urszula T Iwaniec

Mice are a commonly used model to investigate aging-related bone loss but, in contrast to humans, mice exhibit cancellous bone loss prior to skeletal maturity. The mechanisms mediating premature bone loss are not well established. However, our previous work in female mice suggests housing temperature is a critical factor. Premature cancellous bone loss was prevented in female C57BL/6J mice by housing the animals at thermoneutral temperature (where basal rate of energy production is at equilibrium with heat loss). In the present study, we determined if the protective effects of thermoneutral housing extend to males. Male C57BL/6J mice were housed at standard room temperature (22°C) or thermoneutral (32°C) conditions from 5 (rapidly growing) to 16 (slowly growing) weeks of age. Mice housed at room temperature exhibited reductions in cancellous bone volume fraction in distal femur metaphysis and fifth lumbar vertebra; these effects were abolished at thermoneutral conditions. Mice housed at thermoneutral temperature had higher levels of bone formation in distal femur (based on histomorphometry) and globally (serum osteocalcin), and lower global levels of bone resorption (serum C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen) compared to mice housed at room temperature. Thermoneutral housing had no impact on bone marrow adiposity but resulted in higher abdominal white adipose tissue and serum leptin. The overall magnitude of room temperature housing-induced cancellous bone loss did not differ between male (current study) and female (published data) mice. These findings highlight housing temperature as a critical experimental variable in studies using mice of either sex to investigate aging-related changes in bone metabolism.