About this webinar
May 19, 2021
Presented By: Natalia Gallego, INGEMM
Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling and right heart failure. Specific genetic variants increase the incidence of PAH in carriers with a family history of PAH, those who suffer from certain medical conditions, and even those with no apparent risk factors. Inflammation and immune dysregulation are related to vascular remodeling in PAH, but whether genetic susceptibility modifies the PAH immune response is unclear. Methods: Two unrelated families with PAH cases underwent whole-exome sequencing (WES). A custom pipeline for variant prioritization was carried out to obtain candidate variants. To determine the impact of TNIP2 and TRAF2 in cell proliferation, we performed an MTS assay on healthy lung pericytes transfected with siRNA specific for each gene. To measure the effect of loss of TNIP2 and TRAF2 on NF-kappa-beta (NF-kB) activity, we measured levels of Phospho-p65-NF-kB in siRNA-transfected pericytes using western immunoblotting. Results: We discovered a novel missense variant in the TNIP2 gene in two affected individuals from the same family. The two patients had a complex form of PAH with interatrial communication and scleroderma. In the second family, WES of the proband with PAH and primary biliary cirrhosis revealed a de novo protein-truncating variant in the TRAF2 gene. TNIP2 and TRAF2 encode for immunomodulatory proteins that regulate NF-kB activation, a transcription factor complex associated with inflammation and vascular remodeling in PAH. The knockdown of TNIP2 and TRAF2 increased NF-kB activity in healthy lung pericytes, which correlated with a significant increase in proliferation over 24 hours. Conclusions: We have identified two rare novel variants in TNIP2 and TRAF2 using WES. We speculate that loss of function in these genes promotes pulmonary vascular remodeling by allowing overactivation of the NF-kB signaling activity. Our findings support a role for WES in helping identify novel genetic variants associated with dysfunctional immune response in PAH.
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