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Yang, Yuhong; Gomez-Sanchez, Celso E.; Jaquin, Diana; Aristizabal Prada, Elke Tatjana; Meyer, Lucie S.; Knosel, Thomas; Schneider, Holger; Beuschlein, Felix; Reincke, Martin ORCID: 0000-0002-9817-9875; Williams, Tracy Ann (2019): Primary Aldosteronism: KCNJ5 Mutations and Adrenocortical Cell Growth. In: Hypertension, Vol. 74, No. 4: pp. 809-816
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Abstract

Aldosterone-producing adenomas with somatic mutations in the KCNJ5 G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channel are a cause of primary aldosteronism. These mutations drive aldosterone excess, but their role in cell growth is undefined. Our objective was to determine the role of KCNJ5 mutations in adrenal cell proliferation and apoptosis. The Ki67 proliferative index was positively correlated with adenoma diameter in aldosterone-producing adenomas with a KCNJ5 mutation (r=0.435, P=0.007), a negative correlation was noted in adenomas with no mutation detected (r=-0.548, P=0.023). Human adrenocortical cell lines were established with stable expression of cumate-inducible wild-type or mutated KCNJ5. Increased cell proliferation was induced by low-level induction of KCNJ5-T158A expression compared with control cells (P=0.009), but increased induction ablated this difference. KCNJ5-G151R displayed no apparent proliferative effect, but KCNJ5-G151E and L168R mutations each resulted in decreased cell proliferation (difference P<0.0001 from control cells, both comparisons). Under conditions tested, T158A had no effect on apoptosis, but apoptosis increased with expression of G151R (P<0.0001), G151E (P=0.008), and L168R (P<0.0001). We generated a specific KCNJ5 monoclonal antibody which was used in immunohistochemistry to demonstrate strong KCNJ5 expression in adenomas without a KCNJ5 mutation and in the zona glomerulosa adjacent to adenomas irrespective of genotype as well as in aldosterone-producing cell clusters. Double immunofluorescence staining for KCNJ5 and CYP11B2 (aldosterone synthase) showed markedly decreased KCNJ5 immunostaining in CYP11B2-positive cells compared with CYP11B2-negative cells in aldosterone-producing adenomas with a KCNJ5 mutation. Together, these findings support the concept that cell growth effects of KCNJ5 mutations are determined by the expression level of the mutated channel.