Whole-exome sequencing studies of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas

Paul J Newey, M Andrew Nesbit, Andrew J Rimmer, Rosie A Head, Caroline M Gorvin, Moustafa Attar, Lorna Gregory, John A H Wass, David Buck, Niki Karavitaki, Ashley B Grossman, Gilean McVean, Olaf Ansorge, Rajesh V Thakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: The tumorigenic role of genetic abnormalities in sporadic pituitary nonfunctioning adenomas (NFAs), which usually originate from gonadotroph cells, is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to identify somatic genetic abnormalities in sporadic pituitary NFAs.

DESIGN: Whole-exome sequencing was performed using DNA from 7 pituitary NFAs and leukocyte samples obtained from the same patients. Somatic variants were confirmed by dideoxynucleotide sequencing, and candidate driver genes were assessed in an additional 24 pituitary NFAs.

RESULTS: Whole-exome sequencing achieved a high degree of coverage such that approximately 97% of targeted bases were represented by more than 10 base reads; 24 somatic variants were identified and confirmed in the discovery set of 7 pituitary NFAs (mean 3.5 variants/tumor; range 1-7). Approximately 80% of variants occurred as missense single nucleotide variants and the remainder were synonymous changes or small frameshift deletions. Each of the 24 mutations occurred in independent genes with no recurrent mutations. Mutations were not observed in genes previously associated with pituitary tumorigenesis, although somatic variants in putative driver genes including platelet-derived growth factor D (PDGFD), N-myc down-regulated gene family member 4 (NDRG4), and Zipper sterile-α-motif kinase (ZAK) were identified; however, DNA sequence analysis of these in the validation set of 24 pituitary NFAs did not reveal any mutations indicating that these genes are unlikely to contribute significantly in the etiology of sporadic pituitary NFAs.

CONCLUSIONS: Pituitary NFAs harbor few somatic mutations consistent with their low proliferation rates and benign nature, but mechanisms other than somatic mutation are likely involved in the etiology of sporadic pituitary NFAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E796-800
JournalThe Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Adenoma
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Exome
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Pituitary Neoplasms
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcriptome


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