Herrera, Victoria L. M. and Pasion, Khristine A. and Moran, Ann Marie and Zaninello, Roberta and Ortu, Maria Francesca and Fresu, Giovanni and Piras, Daniela Antonella and Argiolas, Giuseppe and Troffa, Chiara and Glorioso, Valeria and Masala, Wanda and Glorioso, Nicola and Ruiz-Opazo, Nelson (2015) A Functional 12T-insertion polymorphism in the ATP1A1 promoter confers decreased susceptibility to hypertension in a male Sardinian population. PLoS One, Vol. 10 (1), p. 14. ISSN 1932-6203. Article.
Identification of susceptibility genes for essential hypertension in humans has been a challenge due to its multifactorial pathogenesis complicated by gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, developmental programing and sex specific differences. These concurrent features make identification of causal hypertension susceptibility genes with a single approach difficult, thus requiring multiple lines of evidence involving genetic, biochemical and biological experimentation to establish causal functional mutations. Here we report experimental evidence encompassing genetic, biochemical and in vivo modeling that altogether support ATP1A1 as a hypertension susceptibility gene in males in Sardinia, Italy. ATP1A1 encodes the α1Na,K-ATPase isoform, the sole sodium pump in vascular endothelial and renal tubular epithelial cells. DNA-sequencing detected a 12-nucleotide long thymidine (12T) insertion(ins)/deletion(del) polymorphism within a poly-T sequence (38T vs 26T) in the ATP1A1 5’-regulatory region associated with hypertension in a male Sardinian population. The 12T-insertion allele confers decreased susceptibility to hypertension (P = 0.035; OR = 0.50 [0.28–0.93]) accounting for 12.1 mmHg decrease in systolic BP (P = 0.02) and 6.6 mmHg in diastolic BP (P = 0.046). The ATP1A1 promoter containing the 12T-insertion exhibited decreased transcriptional activity in in vitro reporter-assay systems, indicating decreased α1Na,K-ATPase expression with the 12T-insertion, compared with the 12T-deletion ATP1A1 promoter. To test the effects of decreased α1Na,K-ATPase expression on blood pressure, we measured blood pressure by radiotelemetry in three month-old, highly inbred heterozygous knockout ATP1A1+/− male mice with resultant 58% reduction in ATP1A1 protein levels. Male ATP1A1+/− mice showed significantly lower blood pressure (P < 0.03) than age-matched male wild-type littermate controls. Concordantly, lower ATP1A1 expression is expected to lower Na-reabsorption in the kidney thereby decreasing sodium-associated risk for hypertension and sodium-induced endothelial stiffness and dysfunction. Altogether, data support ATP1A1 as a hypertension susceptibility gene in a male Sardinian population, and mandate further investigation of its involvement in hypertension in the general population.
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