Objective:We investigated the association of genetic variants of EPHA4, a receptor tyrosine kinase, with hypertension, and its role in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) contractility.Methods:Data from two human genetic studies, ADVANCE and HCHS/SOL, were analyzed for association of EPHA4 single nucleotide variants (SNVs) with hypertension risks. The effect of EPHA4 signalling on mouse VSMC contractility was assessed.Results:We identified a SNV (rs75843691 hg19 chr2:g.222395371 C>G), located in the third intron of EPHA4 gene, being significantly associated with hypertension in human female patients (P value = 8.3 × 10-4, below the Bonferroni-corrected critical P value) but not male patients with type 2 diabetes from the ADVANCE clinical trial. We found that EPHA4 was expressed in VSMCs and its stimulation by anti-EPHA4 antibody led to reduced VSMC contractility. Estrogen enhanced the contractility-lowering effect of EPHA4 stimulation. Conversely, siRNA knockdown of Epha4 expression in VSMCs resulted in increased contractility of VSMCs from female mice but not from male mice.Conclusion:EPHA4 appears to be a sex-specific hypertension risk gene in type 2 diabetic patients. Forward EPHA4 signalling reduces VSMC contractility, and estrogen is a modifier of this effect. The effect of EPHA4 on VSMCs contractility explains the association of EPHA4 gene with hypertension risks in female patients.
- Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease: Preterax and Diamicron-MR Controlled Evaluation
- gene variants
- single-nucleotide polymorphism
- vascular smooth muscle cells