Cushing's disease (CD) is caused by pituitary corticotroph adenomas that secrete excess adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In these tumors, somatic mutations in the gene USP8 have been identified as recurrent and pathogenic and are the sole known molecular driver for CD. Although other somatic mutations were reported in these studies, their contribution to the pathogenesis of CD remains unexplored. No molecular drivers have been established for a large proportion of CD cases and tumor heterogeneity has not yet been investigated using genomics methods. Also, even in USP8-mutant tumors, a possibility may exist of additional contributing mutations, following a paradigm from other neoplasm types where multiple somatic alterations contribute to neoplastic transformation. The current study utilizes whole-exome discovery sequencing on the Illumina platform, followed by targeted amplicon-validation sequencing on the Pacific Biosciences platform, to interrogate the somatic mutation landscape in a corticotroph adenoma resected from a CD patient. In this USP8-mutated tumor, we identified an interesting somatic mutation in the gene RASD1, which is a component of the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor signaling system. This finding may provide insight into a novel mechanism involving loss of feedback control to the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor and subsequent deregulation of ACTH production in corticotroph tumors.
Journal: Cold Spring Harbor molecular case studies