Parma J., Van Sande J., Swillens S., et al.
A series of somatic mutations of the TSH receptor gene have been demonstrated in hyperfunctioning thyroid adenomas. The mutations studied up to now cause constitutive (i.e. TSH-independent) activation of the cAMP-regulatory cascade only. As a follow-up to our original study, we have now completely sequenced exon number 10 of the TSH receptor gene in the same series of toxic adenomas. An activating mutation was found in nine of 11 tumors. In addition to the mutations already described, two isoleucine residues belonging to the first and second extracellular loops of the receptor (Ile486 and Ile568) were found mutated. Two different adenomas were found to harbor a different amino acid substitution at residue 486 (Ile486Phe, Ile486Met). Ile568 was mutated to threonine in one. When studied by transfection in COS-7 cells, all three mutations caused very strong activation of the cAMP-regulatory cascade. In addition, the Ile486Phe and, to a lesser extent, the Ile486Met and Ile568Thr mutants stimulated constitutively the inositol phosphate-diacylglycerol cascade. Our results demonstrate that 1) the first and second extracellular loops contribute to the silencing of the unliganded TSH receptor; 2) the two regulatory cascades normally under TSH control can be constitutively activated by somatic mutations of the receptor; 3) the TSH receptor can be activated by mutation of a large number of residues distributed over the first and second extracellular loops, the third intracellular loop, and the third, sixth, and seventh transmembrane segments; 4) activating mutations of the TSH receptor constitute the major cause of toxic adenomas, accounting for about 80% of the cases.