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1.  Genetics of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Tremendous progress has been made in understanding the genetics of hereditable pulmonary arterial hypertension (HPAH) since its description in the 1950s. Germline mutations in the gene coding bone morphogenetic receptor type 2 (BMPR2) are detectable in the majority of cases of HPAH, and in a small proportion of cases of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). HPAH is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by reduced penetrance, variable expressivity, female predominance, and genetic anticipation. These characteristics suggest that endogenous and exogenous factors modify disease expression and areas of emphasis for future investigation. The variable clinical expression makes genetic counseling complex because the majority of carriers of a BMPR2 mutation will not be diagnosed with the disease. This issue will become increasingly important, as clinical testing for BMPR2 mutations is now available for the evaluation of patients and family members with HPAH and IPAH.
PMCID: PMC3737593  PMID: 19634078
Bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2; pulmonary arterial hypertension; genetics; modifiers; hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
2.  Genome-wide association study identifies multiple susceptibility loci for pulmonary fibrosis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):613-620.
We performed a genome-wide association study in non-Hispanic white subjects with fibrotic idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (N=1616) and controls (N=4683); replication was assessed in 876 cases and 1890 controls. We confirmed association with TERT and MUC5B on chromosomes 5p15 and 11p15, respectively, the chromosome 3q26 region near TERC, and identified 7 novel loci (PMeta = 2.4×10−8 to PMeta = 1.1×10−19). The novel loci include FAM13A (4q22), DSP (6p24), OBFC1 (10q24), ATP11A (13q34), DPP9 (19p13), and chromosomal regions 7q22 and 15q14-15. Our results demonstrate that genes involved in host defense, cell-cell adhesion, and DNA repair contribute to the risk of fibrotic IIP.
PMCID: PMC3677861  PMID: 23583980
3.  Bronchoscopic Cryobiopsy for the Diagnosis of Diffuse Parenchymal Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78674.
Although in some cases clinical and radiographic features may be sufficient to establish a diagnosis of diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD), surgical lung biopsy is frequently required. Recently a new technique for bronchoscopic lung biopsy has been developed using flexible cryo-probes. In this study we describe our clinical experience using bronchoscopic cryobiopsy for diagnosis of diffuse lung disease.
A retrospective study of subjects who had undergone bronchoscopic cryobiopsy for evaluation of DPLD at an academic tertiary care center from January 1, 2012 through January 15, 2013 was performed. The procedure was performed using a flexible bronchoscope to acquire biopsies of lung parenchyma. H&E stained biopsies were reviewed by an expert lung pathologist.
Twenty-five eligible subjects were identified. With a mean area of 64.2 mm2, cryobiopsies were larger than that typically encountered with traditional transbronchial forceps biopsy. In 19 of the 25 subjects, a specific diagnosis was obtained. In one additional subject, biopsies demonstrating normal parenchyma were felt sufficient to exclude diffuse lung disease as a cause of dyspnea. The overall diagnostic yield of bronchoscopic cryobiopsy was 80% (20/25). The most frequent diagnosis was usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) (n = 7). Three of the 25 subjects ultimately required surgical lung biopsy. There were no significant complications.
In patients with suspected diffuse parenchymal lung disease, bronchoscopic cryobiopsy is a promising and minimally invasive approach to obtain lung tissue with high diagnostic yield.
PMCID: PMC3827078  PMID: 24265706
4.  Longitudinal Analysis Casts Doubt on the Presence of Genetic Anticipation in Heritable Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Rationale: Analysis of the age of onset in heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension (HPAH) has led to the hypothesis that genetic anticipation causes younger age of onset and death in subsequent generations. With accrual of pedigree data over multiple decades, we retested this hypothesis using analyses that eliminate the truncation of data that exists with shorter duration of follow-up.
Objectives: To analyze the pedigrees of families with mutations in bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2), afflicted in two or more generations with HPAH, eliminating time truncation bias by including families for whom we have at least 57 years of data.
Methods: We analyzed 355 individuals with BMPR2 mutations from 53 families in the Vanderbilt Pulmonary Hypertension Registry. We compared age at diagnosis or death in affected individuals (n = 249) by generation within families with multigenerational disease. We performed linear mixed effects models and we limited time-truncation bias by restricting date of birth to before 1955. This allowed for 57 years of follow-up (1955–2012) for mutation carriers to develop disease. We also conducted Kaplan-Meier analysis to include currently unaffected mutation carriers (n = 106).
Measurements and Main Results: Differences in age at diagnosis by generation were found in a biased analysis that included all birth years to the present, but this finding was eliminated when the 57-year observation limit was imposed. By Kaplan-Meier analysis, inclusion of currently unaffected mutation carriers strengthens the observation that bias of ascertainment exists when recent generations are included.
Conclusions: Genetic anticipation is likely an artifact of incomplete time of observation of kindreds with HPAH due to BMPR2 mutations.
PMCID: PMC3530218  PMID: 22923661
hereditary; pulmonary hypertension; genetics
5.  Genetics and Mediators in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Clinics in chest medicine  2007;28(1):43-viii.
PMCID: PMC3740514  PMID: 17338927
6.  Genetics and Genomics of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disorder that may be hereditable (HPAH), idiopathic (IPAH), or associated with either drug-toxin exposures or other medical conditions. Familial cases have long been recognised and are usually due to mutations in Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptor type 2 gene (BMPR2), or, much less commonly, 2 other members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily, Activin-like Kinase-Type I (ALK1) and Endoglin (ENG), which are associated with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. In addition, approximately 20% of patients with IPAH carry mutations in BMPR2. We provide a summary of BMPR2 mutations associated with IPAH/HPAH, most of which are unique to each family and are presumed to result in loss of function. We review the finding of missense variants and variants of unknown significance in BMPR2 in IPAH/HPAH, fenfluramine exposure, and PAH associated with congenital heart disease. Clinical testing for BMPR2 mutations is available and may be offered to HPAH and IPAH patients but should be preceded by genetic counselling, since lifetime penetrance is only 10%–20%, and there are currently no known effective preventative measures. Identification of a familial mutation can be valuable in reproductive planning and identifying family members who are not mutation carriers and thus will not require lifelong surveillance. With advances in genomic technology and with international collaborative efforts, genome-wide association studies will be conducted to identify additional genes for HPAH, genetic modifiers for BMPR2 penetrance, and genetic susceptibility to IPAH. In addition, collaborative studies of BMPR2 mutation carriers should enable identification of environmental modifiers, biomarkers for disease development and progression, and surrogate markers for efficacy end points in clinical drug development, thereby providing an invaluable resource for trials of PAH prevention.
PMCID: PMC3725550  PMID: 19555857
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension; Genetics; Genomics
7.  Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Familial pulmonary arterial hypertension (FPAH) was described 60 years ago, but real progress in understanding its origins and pathogenesis is just beginning. Germline mutations in bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) are responsible for the disease in most families, and also in many sporadic cases of idiopathic PAH. Heritable PAH refers to patients with a positive family history, or with a responsible genetic mutation, and is an autosomal dominant disease that affects females disproportionately, may occur at any age, and is characterized by reduced penetrance and variable expressivity. These characteristics suggest that other endogenous or exogenous factors modify its expression. Several different factors have recently been demonstrated to modify the clinical expression of BMPR2 mutation, including estrogen metabolites and functional polymorphisms in transforming growth factor–β1 and CYP1B1. Furthermore, a linkage study recently identified modifier loci for BMPR2 clinical expression, which suggests an oligogenic model. Clinical testing for BMPR2 mutations is available for families with heritable and idiopathic PAH, and is an evolving model of personalized medicine. Variable age of onset and decreased penetrance confound genetic counseling, because the majority of carriers of a BMPR2 mutation will never develop PAH, but often transmit the risk to their progeny.
PMCID: PMC3131832  PMID: 21543793
pulmonary; pulmonary artery; pulmonary hypertension
8.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies a susceptibility locus for pulmonary arterial hypertension 
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):518-521.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare and devastating disease, resulting from progressive obliteration of small caliber pulmonary arteries by proliferating vascular cells, and leading to cardiac failure, with an untreated mean survival of less than three years 1,2. PAH can complicate other pathological conditions, or can occur in the context of genetic mutations causing heritable PAH, or can be considered as idiopathic (iPAH), which represents approximately 40% of all PAH 3,4. Low penetrance dominant BMPR2 mutations are found in ~70% of familial PAH (fPAH), and in ~15% of iPAH which are thereafter considered as heritable PAH 5,6. We conducted a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) based on two independent case-control studies for iPAH and fPAH (without BMPR2 mutations) totaling 625 patients and 1,525 healthy individuals, to identify novel genetic factors associated with iPAH and fPAH (i/fPAH) in the absence of BMPR2 mutations. A genome wide significant association was detected at the CBLN2 locus mapping to 18q22.3, the risk allele being associated with an odds ratio for i/fPAH of 1.97 [1.59 – 2.45] (P = 7.47 x 10−10). CBLN2 is expressed in the lung, particularly in pulmonary vascular endothelial cells, and its expression is increased in explanted lungs from PAH patients and in endothelial cells cultured from explanted PAH lungs.
PMCID: PMC3983781  PMID: 23502781
9.  A Common MUC5B Promoter Polymorphism and Pulmonary Fibrosis 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2011;364(16):1503-1512.
The mutations that have been implicated in pulmonary fibrosis account for only a small proportion of the population risk.
Using a genomewide linkage scan, we detected linkage between idiopathic interstitial pneumonia and a 3.4-Mb region of chromosome 11p15 in 82 families. We then evaluated genetic variation in this region in gel-forming mucin genes expressed in the lung among 83 subjects with familial interstitial pneumonia, 492 subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and 322 controls. MUC5B expression was assessed in lung tissue.
Linkage and fine mapping were used to identify a region of interest on the p-terminus of chromosome 11 that included gel-forming mucin genes. The minor-allele of the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs35705950, located 3 kb upstream of the MUC5B transcription start site, was present at a frequency of 34% among subjects with familial interstitial pneumonia, 38% among subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and 9% among controls (allelic association with familial interstitial pneumonia, P = 1.2×10−15; allelic association with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, P = 2.5×10−37). The odds ratios for disease among subjects who were heterozygous and those who were homozygous for the minor allele of this SNP were 6.8 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.9 to 12.0) and 20.8 (95% CI, 3.8 to 113.7), respectively, for familial interstitial pneumonia and 9.0 (95% CI, 6.2 to 13.1) and 21.8 (95% CI, 5.1 to 93.5), respectively, for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. MUC5B expression in the lung was 14.1 times as high in subjects who had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as in those who did not (P<0.001). The variant allele of rs35705950 was associated with up-regulation in MUC5B expression in the lung in unaffected subjects (expression was 37.4 times as high as in unaffected subjects homozygous for the wild-type allele, P<0.001). MUC5B protein was expressed in lesions of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
A common polymorphism in the promoter of MUC5B is associated with familial interstitial pneumonia and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Our findings suggest that dys-regulated MUC5B expression in the lung may be involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC3379886  PMID: 21506741
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common form of the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIP) and remains a disease with a poor prognosis. Familial interstitial pneumonia (FIP) occurs when two or more individuals from a given family have an IIP. FIP cases have been linked to mutations in surfactant protein C (SFTPC), surfactant protein A2 (SFTPA2), telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), and telomerase RNA component (TERC). Together, mutations in these four genes likely explain only 15-20% of FIP cases, and are even less frequent in sporadic IPF. However, dysfunctional aspects of the pathways that are involved with these genes are present in sporadic forms of IPF even in the absence of mutations, suggesting common underlying disease mechanisms. By serving as a resource for identifying the current and future genetic links to disease, FIP families hold great promise in defining IPF pathogenesis, potentially suggesting targets for the development of future therapies.
PMCID: PMC3103077  PMID: 21613931
familial interstitial pneumonia; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; lung; surfactant protein; telomerase
11.  Percutaneous Vascular Stent Implantation as Treatment for Central Vascular Obstruction due to Fibrosing Mediastinitis 
Circulation  2011;123(13):1391-1399.
Fibrosing Mediastinitis (FM) is a rare complication of infection with Histoplasma capsulatum, which can lead to obstruction of pulmonary and systemic vasculature and large airways, often resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Medical therapy is ineffective and surgical intervention is often not feasible. Stent implantation offers a potential treatment for vascular obstruction due to FM, but this has not been well studied.
Methods and Results
We conducted a retrospective review of all patients undergoing cardiac catheterization for FM. Anatomic site of stenosis and hemodynamic information before and after intervention, as well as clinical presentation and follow-up data were recorded. From 1996 to 2008, 58 patients underwent cardiac catheterization for FM, with intervention performed in 40 (69%). A total of 77 stents were used to relieve 59 lesions (pulmonary artery = 26, pulmonary vein = 21, superior vena cava = 12). Significant reduction in pressure gradients (p<0.001) and increase in vessel caliber (p<0.001) was seen at all locations. Symptomatic recurrent stenosis requiring further intervention occurred in 11 (28%) patients. Median time to recurrence was 115 months. Thirty-two (87%) of 37 patients for whom follow-up was available reported symptomatic improvement following stent placement. Procedure-related complications occurred in 14 patients (24%). Overall mortality was 19%, with the majority of deaths in patients with bilateral disease. Among patients with bilateral disease, intervention was associated with improved survival at 5 years.
Percutaneous vascular stent implantation is an effective therapy for central vascular obstruction due to FM, providing significant relief of anatomic obstruction and sustained clinical improvement.
PMCID: PMC3095436  PMID: 21422386
stents; stenosis; pulmonary heart disease; *fibrosing mediastinitis; *pulmonary vascular obstruction
12.  The Genetic Approach in Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Multiple investigators have undertaken genetic studies in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis populations in attempts to define genetic links to disease in hopes that this would improve understanding of disease pathogenesis and target pathways for therapy. Multiple genes have been evaluated using a candidate gene approach with limited success, with results suggesting a disease modifier effect rather than a disease causing effect. Using this approach, associations have been observed between idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and specific polymorphisms in genes encoding interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, tumor necrosis factor-α, and complement receptor 1. Recently investigators have used familial pulmonary fibrosis cohorts to evaluate for genetic mutations associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Using one pulmonary fibrosis kindred, a mutation in the gene encoding surfactant protein C was identified as the cause of pulmonary fibrosis in this family. Subsequently, another individual with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis was identified with a different mutation in surfactant protein C. Though rarely found in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, these surfactant protein C mutations highlight the importance of the alveolar epithelium in disease pathogenesis. A recent collaboration between investigators at three major centers has resulted in the largest collection of families with pulmonary fibrosis to date, with hopes that this effort will identify genetic mutations associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. If genetic links to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are defined in this study, then the pathways involved with these genes and gene products can be targeted by investigators to help identify potential treatment options for this disease.
PMCID: PMC2658686  PMID: 16738199
familial pulmonary fibrosis; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; surfactant protein C
13.  A Novel Channelopathy in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(4):351-361.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a devastating disease with high mortality. Familial cases of pulmonary arterial hypertension are usually characterized by autosomal dominant transmission with reduced penetrance, and some familial cases have unknown genetic causes.
We studied a family in which multiple members had pulmonary arterial hypertension without identifiable mutations in any of the genes known to be associated with the disease, including BMPR2, ALK1, ENG, SMAD9, and CAV1. Three family members were studied with whole-exome sequencing. Additional patients with familial or idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension were screened for the mutations in the gene that was identified on whole-exome sequencing. All variants were expressed in COS-7 cells, and channel function was studied by means of patch-clamp analysis.
We identified a novel heterozygous missense variant c.608 G→A (G203D) in KCNK3 (the gene encoding potassium channel subfamily K, member 3) as a disease-causing candidate gene in the family. Five additional heterozygous missense variants in KCNK3 were independently identified in 92 unrelated patients with familial pulmonary arterial hypertension and 230 patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. We used in silico bioinformatic tools to predict that all six novel variants would be damaging. Electrophysiological studies of the channel indicated that all these missense mutations resulted in loss of function, and the reduction in the potassium-channel current was remedied by the application of the phospholipase inhibitor ONO-RS-082.
Our study identified the association of a novel gene, KCNK3, with familial and idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. Mutations in this gene produced reduced potassium-channel current, which was successfully remedied by pharmacologic manipulation. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
PMCID: PMC3792227  PMID: 23883380
14.  BMPR2 expression is suppressed by signaling through the estrogen receptor 
Studies in multiple organ systems have shown cross-talk between signaling through the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) and estrogen pathways. In humans, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) has a female predominance, and is associated with decreased BMPR2 expression. The goal of this study was to determine if estrogens suppress BMPR2 expression.
A variety of techniques were utilized across several model platforms to evaluate the relationship between estrogens and BMPR2 gene expression. We used quantitative RT-PCR, gel mobility shift, and luciferase activity assays in human samples, live mice, and cell culture.
BMPR2 expression is reduced in lymphocytes from female patients compared with male patients, and in whole lungs from female mice compared with male mice. There is an evolutionarily conserved estrogen receptor binding site in the BMPR2 promoter, which binds estrogen receptor by gel-shift assay. Increased exogenous estrogen decreases BMPR2 expression in cell culture, particularly when induced to proliferate. Transfection of increasing quantities of estrogen receptor alpha correlates strongly with decreasing expression of BMPR2.
BMPR2 gene expression is reduced in females compared to males in live humans and in mice, likely through direct estrogen receptor alpha binding to the BMPR2 promoter. This reduced BMPR2 expression may contribute to the increased prevalence of PAH in females.
PMCID: PMC3310853  PMID: 22348410
BMPR2; estrogen; hormones; expression; pulmonary hypertension
15.  The genetics of pulmonary arterial hypertension in the post-BMPR2 era 
Pulmonary Circulation  2011;1(3):305-319.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rapidly progressive and fatal disease for which there is an ever-expanding body of genetic and related pathophysiological information on disease pathogenesis. The most common single culprit gene known is BMPR2, and animal models of the disease in several forms exist. There is a wealth of genetic data regarding modifiers of disease expression, penetrance, and severity. Despite the rapid accumulation of data in the last decade, a complete picture of the molecular pathogenesis of PAH leading to novel therapies is lacking. In this review, we attempt to summarize the current understanding of PAH from the genetic perspective. The most recent PAH demographics are discussed. Heritable PAH in the post-BMPR2 era is examined in detail as the most robust model of PAH genetics in both animal models and human pedigrees. Important downstream molecular pathways and modifiers of disease expression are reviewed in light of what is known about PAH pathogenesis. Current and emerging therapies are examined in light of genetic data. The role of genetic testing in PAH in the post-BMPR2 era is discussed. Finally, directions for future investigations that ideally will fulfill the promise of novel therapeutic or preventive strategies are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3224422  PMID: 22140620
BMPR2; heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension; idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension; pulmonary arterial hypertension; right ventricle
16.  Idiopathic and heritable PAH perturb common molecular pathways, correlated with increased MSX1 expression 
Pulmonary Circulation  2011;1(3):389-398.
The majority of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is not associated with BMPR2 mutation, and major risk factors for idiopathic PAH are not known. The objective of this study was to identify a gene expression signature for IPAH. To accomplish this, we used Affymetrix arrays to probe expression levels in 86 patient samples, including 22 healthy controls, 20 IPAH patients, 20 heritable PAH patients (HPAH), and 24 BMPR2 mutation carriers that were as yet unaffected (UMC). Culturing the patient cells removes the signatures of drug effects and inflammation which have made interpretation of results from freshly isolated lymphocytes problematic. We found that gene expression signatures from IPAH patients clustered either with HPAH patients or in a single distinct group. There were no groups of genes changed in IPAH that were not also changed in HPAH. HPAH, IPAH, and UMC had common changes in metabolism, actin dynamics, adhesion, cytokines, metabolism, channels, differentiation, and transcription factors. Common to IPAH and HPAH but not UMC were an upregulation of vesicle trafficking, oxidative/nitrosative stress, and cell cycle genes. The transcription factor MSX1, which is known to regulate BMP signaling, was the most upregulated gene (4×) in IPAH patients. These results suggest that IPAH cases have a shared molecular origin, which is closely related to, but distinct from, HPAH. HPAH and IPAH share the majority of altered signaling pathways, suggesting that treatments developed to target the molecular etiology of HPAH will also be effective against IPAH.
PMCID: PMC3224431  PMID: 22140629
BMPR2; heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension; idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension; PPH
17.  Ancestral Mutation in Telomerase Causes Defects in Repeat Addition Processivity and Manifests As Familial Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1001352.
The telomerase reverse transcriptase synthesizes new telomeres onto chromosome ends by copying from a short template within its integral RNA component. During telomere synthesis, telomerase adds multiple short DNA repeats successively, a property known as repeat addition processivity. However, the consequences of defects in processivity on telomere length maintenance are not fully known. Germline mutations in telomerase cause haploinsufficiency in syndromes of telomere shortening, which most commonly manifest in the age-related disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. We identified two pulmonary fibrosis families that share two non-synonymous substitutions in the catalytic domain of the telomerase reverse transcriptase gene hTERT: V791I and V867M. The two variants fell on the same hTERT allele and were associated with telomere shortening. Genealogy suggested that the pedigrees shared a single ancestor from the nineteenth century, and genetic studies confirmed the two families had a common founder. Functional studies indicated that, although the double mutant did not dramatically affect first repeat addition, hTERT V791I-V867M showed severe defects in telomere repeat addition processivity in vitro. Our data identify an ancestral mutation in telomerase with a novel loss-of-function mechanism. They indicate that telomere repeat addition processivity is a critical determinant of telomere length and telomere-mediated disease.
Author Summary
Mutations in the essential telomerase components cause a spectrum of diseases mediated by short telomeres. Most frequently, these disorders manifest in the lung in an age-related disease: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Telomerase synthesizes telomere repeats using a specialized reverse transcriptase, hTERT, that copies from a short template within its intrinsic RNA. In order to add long telomere tracts, telomerase adds a single repeat followed by additional repeats successively. This property, known as repeat addition processivity, is unique to the telomerase polymerase. We identified two families that shared two unique variants in the catalytic domain of hTERT: V791I and V867M. The variants co-segregated, indicating they are on the same allele, and were associated with short telomeres. Family history suggested the two families may have a single ancestor, and genetic studies confirmed they had a common founder. Telomerase reconstitution indicated that, although the double mutant did not significantly affect telomerase's ability to add a single telomere repeat, hTERT 791I-867M had severe defects in repeat addition processivity. Our data identify an ancestral mutation in telomerase; this mutation possesses a unique loss-of-function mechanism. Defects in telomere addition processivity are important determinants of telomere length maintenance and of telomere-associated disease.
PMCID: PMC3069110  PMID: 21483807
18.  MUC5B Promoter Polymorphism and Interstitial Lung Abnormalities 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(23):2192-2200.
A common promoter polymorphism (rs35705950) in MUC5B, the gene encoding mucin 5B, is associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It is not known whether this polymorphism is associated with interstitial lung disease in the general population.
We performed a blinded assessment of interstitial lung abnormalities detected in 2633 participants in the Framingham Heart Study by means of volumetric chest computed tomography (CT). We evaluated the relationship between the abnormalities and the genotype at the rs35705950 locus.
Of the 2633 chest CT scans that were evaluated, interstitial lung abnormalities were present in 177 (7%). Participants with such abnormalities were more likely to have shortness of breath and chronic cough and reduced measures of total lung and diffusion capacity, as compared with participants without such abnormalities. After adjustment for covariates, for each copy of the minor rs35705950 allele, the odds of interstitial lung abnormalities were 2.8 times greater (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 to 3.9; P<0.001), and the odds of definite CT evidence of pulmonary fibrosis were 6.3 times greater (95% CI, 3.1 to 12.7; P<0.001). Although the evidence of an association between the MUC5B genotype and interstitial lung abnormalities was greater among participants who were older than 50 years of age, a history of cigarette smoking did not appear to influence the association.
The MUC5B promoter polymorphism was found to be associated with interstitial lung disease in the general population. Although this association was more apparent in older persons, it did not appear to be influenced by cigarette smoking. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT00005121.)
PMCID: PMC3747636  PMID: 23692170
19.  Decreased dyskerin levels as a mechanism of telomere shortening in X-linked dyskeratosis congenita 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2011;48(5):327-333.
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a premature ageing syndrome characterised by short telomeres. An X-linked form of DC is caused by mutations in DKC1 which encodes dyskerin, a telomerase component that is essential for telomerase RNA stability. However, mutations in DKC1 are identifiable in only half of X-linked DC families. A four generation family with pulmonary fibrosis and features of DC was identified. Affected males showed the classic mucocutaneous features of DC and died prematurely from pulmonary fibrosis. Although there were no coding sequence or splicing variants, genome wide linkage analysis of 16 individuals across four generations identified significant linkage at the DKC1 locus, and was accompanied by reduced dyskerin protein levels in affected males. Decreased dyskerin levels were associated with compromised telomerase RNA levels and very short telomeres. These data identify decreased dyskerin levels as a novel mechanism of DC, and indicate that intact dyskerin levels, in the absence of coding mutations, are critical for telomerase RNA stability and for in vivo telomere maintenance.
PMCID: PMC3088476  PMID: 21415081
Telomerase; dyskerin; dyskeratosis congenita; pulmonary fibrosis; genetics; haematology (incl blood transfusion); respiratory medicine
20.  Ventricular Geometry, Strain, and Rotational Mechanics in Pulmonary Hypertension 
Circulation  2010;121(2):259-266.
We tested the hypothesis that right ventricular (RV) pressure overload affects RV function, and further influences left ventricular (LV) geometry that adversely affects LV twist mechanics and segmental function.
Methods and Results
Echocardiographic images were prospectively acquired in 44 (46±12 years; 82%F) patients with evidence of pulmonary hypertension (PH) (estimated pulmonary systolic pressure [PASP] =71±23 mmHg) and in 44 age and gender-matched healthy subjects. Patients with intrinsic LV diseases were excluded. RV lateral wall (RVLAT) longitudinal strain (LS) and interventricular septal (IVS) LS were reduced in PH group compared with controls (-15.9±7.6% vs.-25.5±6.1%, p<0.001 and -17.3±4.4% vs.-20.2±3.9%, p=0.002, respectively), while LV lateral wall (LVLAT) LS was preserved. RVLAT and IVS LS, but not LVLAT LS, correlated with PASP(r=0.56, p<0.01; r=0.32, p<0.01) and LV eccentricity index (LVEI) (r=0.57, p<0.01; r=0.57, p<0.01). IVS and LVLAT circumferential strains (CS) were both reduced in the PH group. Although IVS CS and LVLAT CS correlated with PASP and LVEI, after adjusting CS for LVEI, differences between groups persisted for IVS CS (p<0.01) but not LVLAT CS (p=0.09). LV torsion was decreased in patients with PH compared with controls (9.6±4.9° vs. 14.7±4.9°, p<0.001). LV torsion inversely correlated with PASP (r=-0.39, p<0.01) and LVEI (r=-0.3, p<0.01). LV untwisting rates were similar in both groups (p=0.7).
Chronic RV pressure overload directly affects RV longitudinal systolic deformation. RV pressure overload further influences IVS and LV geometry, which impairs LV torsion and segmental LS and CS, more for the IVS than the free wall of the LV.
PMCID: PMC2846516  PMID: 20048214
Torsion; pulmonary hypertension; strain; echocardiography
21.  Penetrance of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension is modulated by the expression of normal BMPR2 allele 
Human mutation  2009;30(4):649-654.
Familial pulmonary arterial hypertension (FPAH) is a progressive, fatal disease caused by mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 gene (BMPR2). FPAH is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait and shows incomplete penetrance in that many with BMPR2 mutations do not develop FPAH suggesting a role for, as yet unidentified, modifier genes in disease penetrance. We hypothesized that variable level of expression of the wild type (WT) BMPR2 allele could act as a modifier and influence penetrance of FPAH. WT BMPR2 levels were determined by real-time PCR analysis in lymphoblastoid (LB) cell lines derived from normal controls and individuals with FPAH. The FPAH kindreds analyzed carried mutations that result in the activation of nonsense mediated decay (NMD) pathway, which leads to the degradation of the mutant RNA thus ensuring that only the WT BMPR2 transcripts will be detected in the real-time assay. Our data show that WT and mutant BMPR2 levels can be reproducibly measured in patient derived LB cell lines and that unaffected mutation carrier derived LB cell lines have higher levels of WT BMPR2 transcripts than FPAH patient derived LB cell lines (p≤0.005). Our findings suggest that the levels of expression of WT BMPR2 allele transcripts is important in the pathogenesis of FPAH caused by NMD+ mutations. Furthermore, our study illustrates a novel application of lymphoblastoid cell lines in the study of PAH, especially important because the affected site, i.e. lung is not available for unaffected mutation carriers.
PMCID: PMC2663001  PMID: 19206171
BMPR2; Penetrance; Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Modifier; FPAH; PPH; NMD
22.  A Functional Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in the TRPC6 Gene Promoter Associated With Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Circulation  2009;119(17):2313-2322.
Excessive proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) plays an important role in the development of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), whereas a rise in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration triggers PASMC contraction and stimulates PASMC proliferation. Recently, we demonstrated that upregulation of the TRPC6 channel contributes to proliferation of PASMCs isolated from IPAH patients. This study sought to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TRPC6 gene promoter that are associated with IPAH and have functional significance in regulating TRPC6 activity in PASMCs.
Methods and Results
Genomic DNA was isolated from blood samples of 237 normal subjects and 268 IPAH patients. Three biallelic SNPs, −361 (A/T), −254(C/G), and −218 (C/T), were identified in the 2000-bp sequence upstream of the transcriptional start site of TRPC6. Although the allele frequencies of the −361 and −218 SNPs were not different between the groups, the allele frequency of the −254(C→G) SNP in IPAH patients (12%) was significantly higher than in normal subjects (6%; P<0.01). Genotype data showed that the percentage of −254G/G homozygotes in IPAH patients was 2.85 times that of normal subjects. Moreover, the −254(C→G) SNP creates a binding sequence for nuclear factor-κB. Functional analyses revealed that the −254(C→G) SNP enhanced nuclear factor-κB–mediated promoter activity and stimulated TRPC6 expression in PASMCs. Inhibition of nuclear factor-κB activity attenuated TRPC6 expression and decreased agonist-activated Ca2+ influx in PASMCs of IPAH patients harboring the −254G allele.
These results suggest that the −254(C→G) SNP may predispose individuals to an increased risk of IPAH by linking abnormal TRPC6 transcription to nuclear factor-κB, an inflammatory transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC2749566  PMID: 19380626
calcium; hypertension; pulmonary; ion channels; muscle, smooth; NF-kappa B
23.  Copy-number variation in BMPR2 is not associated with the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:58.
Copy-number variations (CNVs) are structural variations in the genome involving 1 kb to 3 mb of DNA. CNV has been reported within intron 1 of the BMPR2 gene. We propose that CNV could affect phenotype in familial and/or sporadic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) by altering gene expression.
97 human DNA samples were obtained which included 24 patients with familial PAH, 18 obligate carriers (BMPR2 mutation positive), 20 sporadic PAH patients, and 35 controls. Two sets of primers were designed within the CNV, and two sets of control primers were designed outside the CNV. Quantitative PCR was performed to quantify genomic copies of CNV and control sequences.
A CNV in BMPR2 was present in one African American negative control subject.
We conclude that the CNV in intron 1 in BMPR2 is unlikely to play a role in the pathogenesis of either familial or sporadic PAH.
Trial Registration
NIH NCT00091546.
PMCID: PMC2706815  PMID: 19531247
24.  Proteomics of Transformed Lymphocytes from a Family with Familial Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Rationale: Not all family members with BMPR2 mutations develop pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), implying that additional modifier genes or proteins are necessary for full expression of the disease.
Objectives: To determine whether protein expression is altered in patients with familial PAH (FPAH) compared with obligate carriers and nondiseased control subjects.
Methods: Protein extracts from transformed blood lymphocytes from four patients with FPAH, three obligate carriers, and three married-in control subjects from one family with a known BMPR2 mutation (exon 3 T354G) were labeled with either Cy3 or Cy5. Cy3/5 pairs were separated by standard two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis using a Cy2-labeled internal standard of all patient samples. Log volume ratios were analyzed using a linear mixed-effects model. Proteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and tandem TOF/TOF MS/MS.
Measurements and Main Results: Hierarchical clustering, heat-map, and principal components analysis revealed marked changes in protein expression in patients with FPAH when compared with obligate carriers. Significant changes were apparent in expression of 16 proteins (P < 0.05) when affected patients were compared with obligates: nine showed a significant increase and seven showed a significant reduction.
Conclusions: A series of novel proteins with altered expression were found that could distinguish affected patients from obligate carriers and married-in controls in a single family with a BMPR2 mutation. These differences provide new information highlighting proteins that may be involved in the mechanism(s) that differentiates those individuals with a BMPR2 mutation who develop FPAH from those who do not.
PMCID: PMC2176118  PMID: 17932379
two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis; obligate individuals without FPAH; catalytic activity; MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry
25.  Current Diagnosis and Management of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Survey of Academic Physicians 
Respiratory medicine  2007;101(9):2011-2016.
Little is known about practice patterns regarding the diagnosis and management of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). This study attempts to define the practice patterns of academic pulmonologists caring for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Academic pulmonologists in the United States were surveyed electronically. Completed surveys were received from 272 respondents (representing approximately 10% of academic pulmonologists). The majority agreed that high-resolution computed tomography scanning can establish the diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and that surgical lung biopsy is indicated when the diagnosis remains unclear. Bronchoscopy is little utilized. Most respondents treat patients with medications, but there is no consensus regarding treatment regimen. These results suggest there is general consensus regarding the approach to diagnosis, but that there is no consensus about medical management in IPF.
PMCID: PMC2042103  PMID: 17509853

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