Novel insight into the genetic basis of high-altitude pulmonary hypertension in Kyrgyz highlanders
Iranmehr A, Stobdan T, Zhou D, Poulsen O, Strohl KP, Aldashev A, Telenti A, Wong EHM, Kirkness EF, Venter JC, Bafna V, Haddad GG
The Central Asian Kyrgyz highland population provides a unique opportunity to address genetic diversity and understand the genetic mechanisms underlying high-altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH). Although a significant fraction of the population is unaffected, there are susceptible individuals who display HAPH in the absence of any lung, cardiac or hematologic disease. We report herein the analysis of the whole-genome sequencing of healthy individuals compared with HAPH patients and other controls (total n = 33). Genome scans reveal selection signals in various regions, encompassing multiple genes from the first whole-genome sequences focusing on HAPH. We show here evidence of three candidate genes MTMR4, TMOD3 and VCAM1 that are functionally associated with well-known molecular and pathophysiological processes and which likely lead to HAPH in this population. These processes are (a) dysfunctional BMP signaling, (b) disrupted tissue repair processes and (c) abnormal endothelial cell function. Whole-genome sequence of well-characterized patients and controls and using multiple statistical tools uncovered novel candidate genes that belong to pathways central to the pathogenesis of HAPH. These studies on high-altitude human populations are pertinent to the understanding of sea level diseases involving hypoxia as a main element of their pathophysiology.