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M Peter, K Bunger, SL Drop, and WG Sippell

We performed a molecular genetic study in two patients with congenital hypoaldosteronism. An original study of these patients was published in this Journal in 1982. Both index cases, a girl (patient 1) and a boy (patient 2). presented with salt-wasting and failure to thrive in the neonatal period. Parents of patient 1 were not related, whereas the parents of patient 2 were cousins. Endocrine studies had shown a defect in 18-oxidation of 18-OH-corticosterone in patient 1 and a defect in the 18-hydroxylation of corticosterone in patient 2. Plasma aldosterone was decreased in both patients, whereas 18-OH-corticosterone was elevated in patient 1 and decreased in patient 2. Plasma corticosterone and 11-deoxycorticosterone were elevated in both patients, whereas cortisol and its precursors were in the normal range. According to the nomenclature proposed by Ulick, the defects are termed corticosterone methyl oxidase (CMO) deficiency type II in patient 1, and type I in patient 2 respectively. Genetic defects in the gene CYP11B2 encoding aldosterone synthase have been described in a few cases. In patient 1, we identified only one heterozygous amino acid substitution (V386A) in exon 7, which has no deleterious effect on the enzyme activity. In patient 2 and his older brother, we identified a homozygous single base exchange (G to T) in codon 255 (GAG), causing a premature stop codon E255X (TAG). The mutant enzyme has lost the five terminal exons containing the haem binding site, and is thus a loss of function enzyme. This is only the second report of a patient with CMO deficiency type II without a mutation in the exons and exon-intron boundaries, whereas the biochemical phenotype of the two brothers with CMO deficiency type I can be explained by the patient's genotype.