Context: LHX4 encodes a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor that is implicated in early pituitary development. In humans, only 13 heterozygous LHX4 mutations have been associated with congenital hypopituitarism. Objective: The aims of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of LHX4 mutations in patients with hypopituitarism, to define the associated phenotypes, and to characterize the functional impact of the identified variants and the respective role of the 2 LIM domains of LHX4. Design and Patients: We screened 417 unrelated patients with isolated growth hormone deficiency or combined pituitary hormone deficiency associated with ectopic posterior pituitary and/or sella turcica anomalies for LHX4 mutations (Sanger sequencing). In vitro studies were performed to assess the functional consequences of the identified variants. Results: We identified 7 heterozygous variations, including p.(Tyr131∗), p.(Arg48Thrfs∗104), c.606+1G>T, p.Arg65Val, p.Thr163Pro, p.Arg221Gln, and p.Arg235Gln), that were associated with variable expressivity; 5 of the 7 were also associated with incomplete penetrance. The p.(Tyr131∗), p.(Arg48Thrfs∗104), p.Ala65Val, p.Thr163Pro, and p.Arg221Gln LHX4 variants are unable to transactivate the POU1F1 and GH promoters. As suggested by transactivation, subcellular localization, and protein-protein interaction studies, p.Arg235Gln is probably a rare polymorphism. Coimmunoprecipitation studies identified LHX3 as a potential protein partner of LHX4. As revealed by functional studies of LIM-defective recombinant LHX4 proteins, the LIM1 and LIM2 domains are not redundant. Conclusion: This study, performed in the largest cohort of patients screened so far for LHX4 mutations, describes 6 disease-causing mutations that are responsible for congenital hypopituitarism. LHX4 mutations were found to be associated with variable expressivity, and most of them with incomplete penetrance; their contribution to pituitary deficits that are associated with an ectopic posterior pituitary and/or a sella turcica defect is ∼1.4% in the 417 probands tested.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical