The overall goal of our research is to identify genes as causative biomarkers of hypertension. Over 90% of all hypertension develops for no known reasons. This form, called as essential hypertension, is a serious risk factor and predictor of future cardiovascular, renal diseases and/or stroke. Although genetics is known to be responsible for up to 30% of the incidence of essential hypertension, the genes conferring susceptibility to develop hypertension have been only prioritized as candidate genes. Validation of these candidate genes is required for them to be identified as primary susceptibility genes causing hypertension. Such validation studies are typically conducted in mammalian models such as rats or mice. Using rat genetic models of hypertension we have mapped several regions of the rat genome as those that contain genetic determinants of blood pressure. The proposal described here seeks to validate the prioritized genetic determinants identified in both rats and humans as candidate genetic determinants of blood pressure. The significance of this work is that it is based on systematic and sustained genetic mapping studies in rats to the best resolutions known in the field of hypertension research and aligns discovery of candidate genes from human genome-wide association studies. The innovative aspect of the work is that it employs the state-of-the-art targeted gene disruption (knock-out) strategy using zinc-finger nucleases to target three different genes in the three aims proposed. The genes are: A protein-coding gene, A disintegrin-like metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 16 (Adamts16), a transcription factor, Nuclear receptor subfamily 2, group F member 2 (Nr2f2) and Rififylin (Rffl).
Inheritance of hypertension is well documented but the identities of the genes that are inherited and cause hypertension remain largely unknown. Genes that are prioritized through large scale genetic studies in humans have to be validated in suitable animal models. The research proposed seeks to address this issue by applying the newly available targeted gene-disruption platform in rats to validate the causal nature of the genes prioritized through human and rat genetic studies of hypertension.
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