Mechanisms of disease: Mutations of G proteins and G-protein-coupled receptors in endocrine diseases

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G proteins and G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) mediate the effects of a number of hormones. Genes that encode these molecules are subject to loss-of function or gain-of-function mutations that result in endocrine disorders. Loss-of-function mutations prevent signaling in response to the corresponding agonist and cause resistance to hormone actions, which mimics hormone deficiency. Gain-of-function mutations lead to constitutive, agonist-independent activation of signaling, which mimics hormone excess. Disease-causing mutations of GPCRs have been identified in patients with various disorders of the pituitary-thyroid, pituitary-gonadal and pituitary-adrenal axes, and in those with abnormalities in food intake, growth, water balance and mineral-ion turnover. The only mutational changes in G proteins unequivocally associated with endocrine disorders occur in GNAS (guanine nucleotide-binding protein G-stimulatory subunit α, or Gsα). Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations of GNAS in the active, maternal allele cause resistance to hormones that act through Gsα-coupled GPCRs, whereas somatic gain-of-function mutations cause proliferation of endocrine cells that recognize cyclic AMP as a mitogen. The study of mutations in G proteins and GPCRs has already had major implications for understanding the molecular basis of rare endocrine diseases, as well as susceptibility to multifactorial disorders that are associated with polymorphisms in these genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-693
Number of pages13
JournalNature Clinical Practice Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 27 2006


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Endocrine diseases
  • G protein
  • G-protein-coupled receptor
  • GSP oncogene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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