Functional Validation of a Common Nonsynonymous Coding Variant in ZC3HC1 Associated With Protection From Coronary Artery Disease

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Abstract

Background—

Although virtually all coronary artery disease associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are in noncoding regions of the genome, a common polymorphism in ZC3HC1 (rs11556924), resulting in an arginine (Arg) to histidine (His) substitution in its encoded protein, NIPA (Nuclear Interacting Partner of Anaplastic Lyphoma Kinase) is linked to a protection from coronary artery disease. NIPA plays a role in cell cycle progression, but the functional consequences of this polymorphism have not been established.

Methods and Results—

Here we demonstrate that total ZC3HC1 expression in whole blood is similar across genotypes, despite expression being slightly biased toward the risk allele in heterozygotes. At the protein level, the protective His363 NIPA variant exhibits increased phosphorylation of a critical serine residue (Ser354) and higher protein expression as compared with the Arg363 variant. Binding experiments indicate that neither SKP1 (S-phase kinase-associated protein 1) nor CCNB1 binding were affected by the polymorphism. Despite similar nuclear distribution, NIPA His363 exhibits greater nuclear mobility. NIPA suppression results in a modest reduction of proliferation in vascular smooth muscle cells, but given low proliferative capacity, a significant effect of the variant was not noted. By contrast, we demonstrate that the protective variant reduces cell proliferation in HeLa cells.

Conclusions—

These findings extend the genetic association between rs11556924 and coronary artery disease risk by characterizing its effects on the encoded protein, NIPA. The resulting amino acid change Arg363His is associated with increased expression and nuclear mobility, as well as lower rates of cell growth in HeLa cells, further supporting a role for cell proliferation in atherosclerosis and its clinical consequences.

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