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Genetic analysis of the promoter region of the GATA4 gene in patients with ventricular septal defects

Translational Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.trsl.2011.10.012
  • Design
  • Medicine


Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) are the most common type of congenital heart diseases (CHDs). To date, the genetic causes for sporadic VSDs remain largely unknown. GATA transcription factor 4 (GATA4) is a zinc-finger transcription factor that is expressed in developing heart and adult cardiomyocytes. Mutations in the coding region of the GATA4 gene have been identified in CHD patients, including VSD. As the GATA4 factor is a dosage-sensitive regulator, we hypothesized that the promoter region variants of the GATA4 gene may be genetic causes of VSD. In this study, we analyzed the promoter region of the GATA4 gene by bidirectional sequencing in 172 VSD patients and 171 healthy controls. The results showed that 5 heterozygous sequence variants (NG_008177:g.4071T>C, NG_008177:g.4148C>A, NG_008177:g.4566C>T, NG_008177:g.4653G>T, and NG_008177:g.4690G>deletion) within the promoter region of the GATA gene were identified in 5 VSD patients, but in none of controls. One heterozygous sequence variant (g.4762C>A) was found only in one control, which may have no functional significance. A functional analysis revealed that the transcriptional activity of variant NG_008177:g.4566C>T was reduced significantly, whereas the transcriptional activities of the variants (NG_008177:g.4071T>C, NG_008177:g.4148C>A, NG_008177:g.4653G>T, and NG_008177:g.4690G>deletion) were increased significantly compared with the wild-type GATA4 gene promoter. As GATA4 is a dosage-sensitive regulator during development, our data suggest that these sequence variants within the promoter region of the GATA4 gene may contribute to the VSD etiology by altering its gene expression. Additional studies in experimental animals will deepen our understanding of the genetic basis of VSD and shed light on designing novel molecular therapies for adult VSD patients carrying these variants.

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