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Journal Article

Decoding the genetic basis of Cushing's disease: USP8 in the spotlight


Theodoropoulou,  Marily
Clinical Research, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Theodoropoulou, M., Reincke, M., Fassnacht, M., & Komada, M. (2015). Decoding the genetic basis of Cushing's disease: USP8 in the spotlight. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF ENDOCRINOLOGY, 173(4), M73-M83. doi:10.1530/EJE-15-0320.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-B482-1
Cushing's disease (CD) arises from pituitary-dependent glucocorticoid excess due to an ACTH-secreting corticotroph tumor. Genetic hits in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that afflict other pituitary tumor subtypes are not found in corticotrophinomas. Recently, a somatic mutational hotspot was found in up to half of corticotrophinomas in the USP8 gene that encodes a protein that impairs the downregulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and enables its constitutive signaling. EGF is an important regulator of corticotroph function and its receptor is highly expressed in Cushing's pituitary tumors, where it leads to increased ACTH synthesis in vitro and in vivo. The mutational hotspot found in corticotrophinomas hyper-activates USP8, enabling it to rescue EGFR from lysosomal degradation and ensure its stimulatory signaling. This review presents new developments in the study of the genetics of CD and focuses on the USP8-EGFR system as trigger and target of corticotroph tumorigenesis.