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In cortisone reductase deficiency (CRD), activation of cortisone to cortisol does not occur, resulting in adrenocorticotropin-mediated androgen excess and a phenotype resembling polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS; refs. 1,2). This suggests a defect in the gene HSD11B1 encoding 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1), a primary regulator of tissue-specific glucocorticoid bioavailability. We identified intronic mutations in HSD11B1 that resulted in reduced gene transcription in three individuals with CRD. In vivo, 11beta-HSD1 catalyzes the reduction of cortisone to cortisol whereas purified enzyme acts as a dehydrogenase converting cortisol to cortisone. Oxo-reductase activity can be regained using a NADPH-regeneration system and the cytosolic enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. But the catalytic domain of 11beta-HSD1 faces into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER; ref. 6). We hypothesized that endolumenal hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH) regenerates NADPH in the ER, thereby influencing directionality of 11beta-HSD1 activity. Mutations in exon 5 of H6PD in individuals with CRD attenuated or abolished H6PDH activity. These individuals have mutations in both HSD11B1 and H6PD in a triallelic digenic model of inheritance, resulting in low 11beta-HSD1 expression and ER NADPH generation with loss of 11beta-HSD1 oxo-reductase activity. CRD defines a new ER-specific redox potential and establishes H6PDH as a potential factor in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Genet

Publication Date





434 - 439


11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2, Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Carbohydrate Dehydrogenases, Case-Control Studies, Cell Line, Cortisone Reductase, DNA, Complementary, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Exons, Female, Humans, Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases, Male, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, NADP, Oxidation-Reduction, Phenotype, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, RNA, Messenger, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Transfection