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Getting Personal: Omics of the Heart

Aug 27, 2019

Jane Ferguson:                Hello, and welcome to Getting Personal, Omics of the Heart, your monthly podcast from Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine. I'm Jane Ferguson. It is August, 2019, and this is episode 31. Let's get started.

                                           Our first paper comes from Freyja van Lint and Cynthia James, from University Medical Center Utrecht, and is entitled Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy-Associated Desmosomal Variants Are Rarely De Novo, Segregation and Haplotype Analysis of a Multinational Cohort. In this study, the team was interested in exploring variants that are associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy or ARVC. ARVC is often attributable to pathogenic variants in genes encoding cardiac desmosomal proteins, but the origin of these variants had not been comprehensively studied.

                                           The investigators identified ARVC probands meeting 2010 task force criteria from three ARVC registries in the United States and Europe and who had undergone sequencing of desmosomal genes. All 501 probands, 322 of them, or over 64%, carried a pathogenic or likely pathogenic variant in the desmosomal genes PKP2, DSP DSG2, DSC2, and JUP. The majority of these, over 75%, we're not unique with these variants occurring in more than one proband.

                                           The team performed cascade screening and were able to identify the parental origin of almost all of the variants. However, they identified three de novo variants, including two whole gene deletions. They conducted haplotype analysis for 24 PKP2 variants across 183 seemingly unrelated families and concluded that all of these variants originated from common founders.

                                           This analysis sheds light on the origin of variants in desmosomal genes and suggests that the vast majority of these ARVC variants originate from ancient founders with only a very small proportion of de novo variants. These data can inform clinical care particularly concerning genetic counseling and cascade screening of relatives.

                                           The next paper continues a theme of cardiomyopathy and comes from Derk Frank, Ashraf Yusuf Rangrez, Corinna Friedrich, Sven Dittmann, Norbert Frey, Eric Schulze-Bahr and colleagues from University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein. In this paper, Cardiac α-Actin Gene Mutation Causes Atrial-Septal Defects Associated with Late-Onset Dilated Cardiomyopathy, the team was interested in understanding the genetics of familial atrial-septal defect. They studied large multi-generational family with 78 family members and mapped a causal variant on chromosome 15q14, which caused nonsynonymous change in exon 5 of the ACTC1 gene.

                                           In silico tools predicted this variant to be deleterious. Analysis of myocardial tissue from an affected individual revealed sarcomeric disarray, myofibrillar degeneration, and increased apoptosis. Proteomic analysis highlighted extracellular matrix proteins as being affected. The team over-expressed the mutation in rats and found structural defects and increased apoptosis in neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and confirmed defects in actin polymerization and turnover which affected contractility. These data implicate the variant in ACTC1 as causing atrial-septal defects and late-onset cardiomyopathy in this family and revealed the underlying molecular mechanisms affecting development and contractility.

                                           The next paper is entitled Characterization of the CACNA1C-R518C Missense Mutation in the Pathobiology of Long-QT Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Cardiomyocytes Shows Action Potential Prolongation and L-Type Calcium Channel Perturbation, and it comes from Steven Estes, Michael Ackerman and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic. They set out to use patient-derived human induced pluripotent stem cells to understand the pathogenicity of a variant in the CACNA1C gene in Long-QT Syndrome.

                                           They obtained cells from dermal punch biopsy from an individual with long-QT and a family history of sudden cardiac death who carried an R518C missense mutation in CACNA1C. Starting with fibroblasts, they reprogrammed the cells into iPSCs and then differentiated these into cardiomyocytes. They corrected the mutation back to wild type using CRISPR/Cas9 and then compared the cardiomyocytes carrying the original patient mutation with isogenic corrected cardiomyocyte controls. They found significant differences in action, potential duration, and in calcium handling.

                                           Patch clamp analysis revealed increased L-type calcium channel window current in the original mutation-carrying cells in addition to slow decay time and increased late calcium current compared with the isogenic corrected control human iPSC cardiomyocytes. These data strongly suggest that CACNA1C is a long-QT susceptibility gene and demonstrate the potential in using patient-derived iPSCs and CRISPR/Cas9 to understand underlying mechanisms linking variants to disease.

                                           The final paper this month is Blood Pressure-Associated Genetic Variants in the Natriuretic Peptide Receptor-1 Gene Modulate Guanylate Cyclase Activity and comes from Sara Vandenwijngaert, Chris Newton-Cheh and colleagues on behalf of the CHARGE+ Exome Chip Blood Pressure Consortium, the CHD Exome+ Consortium, the Exome BP Consortium, the GoT2D Consortium, the T2D-GENES Consortium, and the UK Biobank CardioMetabolic Consortium Blood Pressure Working Group.

                                           This team wanted to understand how variants in the NPR-1 gene affect the function of the atrial natriuretic peptide receptor-1. They performed a meta-analysis across over 491,000 unrelated individuals, including both low frequency and rare variants in NPR-1 to identify their association with blood pressure. They identified three nonsynonymous variants associated with altered blood pressure at genome-wide significance and examined the function of these variants in vitro.

                                           Using cells expressing either wild type NPR-1 or one of the three identified variants, they explored the impact of the variants on the ability of cells to catalyzes the conversion of guanosine triphosphate to cyclic 3′,5′-guanosine monophosphate in response to binding of atrial or brain natriuretic peptide. Increased levels of cyclic GMP are known to decrease blood pressure by inducing by natriuresis, diuresis, and vasodilation.

                                           Two variants which associated with high blood pressure in the population meta-analysis were associated with decreased cyclic GMP in response to ANP or BNP in vitro, while one variant which associated with lower blood pressure in humans was associated with higher cyclic GMP production in vitro. These data show that variants affecting loss or gain of function in guanylate cyclase activity could have downstream effects on blood pressure at the population level.

                                           That's it for this month. Thank you for listening. We will be back with more next month. This podcast was brought to you by Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine and the American Heart Association Council on Genomic and Precision Medicine. This program is copyright American Heart Association 2019.