J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006 Jun 28;91(6):2380-8. Epub 2006 Mar 28.
Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, and Pediatric Endocrinology Training Program, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
Context: Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease, associated with Carney complex, is caused by mutations in PRKAR1A (mt-PRKAR1A), a gene that codes for the regulatory subunit type 1alpha (RIalpha) of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). PRKAR1A inactivation is associated with dysregulated PKA activity that is thought to result in tumorigenesis. mt-PRKAR1A-bearing lymphocytes from Carney complex patients exhibit enhanced cell proliferation associated with increased expression of the MAPK ERK1/2 pathway.
Objective: The objective of the study was to determine how PKA and its subunits and ERK1/2 and their molecular partners change in the presence of PRKAR1A mutations in adrenocortical tissue.
Design: PKA activity and subunit expression, ERK1/2, other immunoassays, and immunohistochemistry on adrenocortical samples from patients with germline normal or mt-PRKAR1A were analyzed.
Results: Increased cAMP-stimulated total kinase activity was associated with mt-PRKAR1A. PKA subunit expression analysis in mt-PRKAR1A tissues, by quantitative mRNA assay and immunoblotting, showed a 2.4-fold (P = 0.02) and 1.8-fold (P = 0.09) decrease in RIalpha's message and protein, respectively, and increases in other PKA subunits. Immunoassays showed 2-fold (P = 0.03) and 6-fold (P = 0.03) decreases in baseline ERK1/2, with corresponding increases in phosphorylated (p) ERK1/2 in mt-PRKAR1A samples. B-raf kinase, p-MEK1/2, and p-c-Myc, but not p-Akt/protein kinase B, were significantly increased. Immunohistochemistry studies supported these data.
Conclusions: mt-PRKAR1A causes increased total cAMP-stimulated kinase activity, likely the result of up-regulation of other PKA subunits caused by down-regulation of RIalpha, as seen in human lymphocytes and mouse animal models. These changes, associated with enhanced MAPK activity, may be, in part, responsible for the proliferative signals that result in primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease.