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Physiol Genomics. 2010 Mar 3;41(1):71-7. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00185.2009. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

EDNRA variants associate with smooth muscle mRNA levels, cell proliferation rates, and cystic fibrosis pulmonary disease severity.

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Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Airway inflammation and pulmonary disease are heterogeneous phenotypes in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, even among patients with the same cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) genotype. Endothelin, a proinflammatory peptide and smooth muscle agonist, is increased in CF airways, potentially contributing to the pulmonary phenotype. Four cohorts of CF patients were screened for variants in endothelin pathway genes to determine whether any of these variants associated with pulmonary function. An initial cohort of 808 CF patients homozygous for the common CF mutation, DeltaF508, showed significant association for polymorphisms in the endothelin receptor A gene, EDNRA (P = 0.04), but not in the related endothelin genes (EDN1, EDN2, EDN3, or EDNRB) or NOS1, NOS2A, or NOS3. Variants within EDNRA were examined in three additional cohorts of CF patients, 238 patients from Seattle, WA, 303 from Ireland and the U.K., and 228 from Cleveland, OH, for a total of 1,577 CF patients. The three additional groups each demonstrated a significant association between EDNRA 3'-untranslated region (UTR) variant rs5335 and pulmonary function (P = 0.002). At the molecular level, single nucleotide primer extension assays suggest that the effect of the variants is quantitative. EDNRA mRNA levels from cultured primary tracheal smooth muscle cells are greater for the allele that appears to be deleterious to lung function than for the protective allele, suggesting a mechanism by which increased receptor function is harmful to the CF airway. Finally, cell proliferation studies using human airway smooth muscle cells demonstrated that cells homozygous for the deleterious allele proliferate at a faster rate than those homozygous for the protective allele.

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