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Rare Exome Sequence Variants in CLCN6 Reduce Blood Pressure Levels and Hypertension Risk

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Background—

Rare genetic variants influence blood pressure (BP).

Methods and Results—

Whole-exome sequencing was performed on DNA samples from 17 956 individuals of European ancestry and African ancestry (14 497, first-stage discovery and 3459, second-stage discovery) to examine the effect of rare variants on hypertension and 4 BP traits: systolic BP, diastolic BP, pulse pressure, and mean arterial pressure. Tests of ≈170 000 common variants (minor allele frequency, ≥1%; statistical significance, P≤2.9×10−7) and gene-based tests of rare variants (minor allele frequency, <1%; ≈17 000 genes; statistical significance, P≤1.5×10−6) were evaluated for each trait and ancestry, followed by multiethnic meta-analyses. In the first-stage discovery, rare coding variants (splicing, stop-gain, stop-loss, nonsynonymous variants, or indels) in CLCN6 were associated with lower diastolic BP (cumulative minor allele frequency, 1.3%; β=−3.20; P=4.1×10−6) and were independent of a nearby common variant (rs17367504) previously associated with BP. CLCN6 rare variants were also associated with lower systolic BP (β=−4.11; P=2.8×10−4), mean arterial pressure (β=−3.50; P=8.9×10−6), and reduced hypertension risk (odds ratio, 0.72; P=0.017). Meta-analysis of the 2-stage discovery samples showed that CLCN6 was associated with lower diastolic BP at exome-wide significance (cumulative minor allele frequency, 1.1%; β=−3.30; P=5.0×10−7).

Conclusions—

These findings implicate the effect of rare coding variants in CLCN6 in BP variation and offer new insights into BP regulation.
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Keywords: blood pressure; exome; genetic variation; genome-wide association study; hypertension

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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