Rare variants, in particular renal salt handling genes, contribute to monogenic forms of hypertension and hypotension syndromes with electrolyte abnormalities. A study by Ji et al (2008) demonstrated this effect for rare loss-of-function coding variants in SLC12A3 (NCCT), SLC12A1 (NKCC2), and KCNJ1 (ROMK) that led to reduction of ∼6 mm Hg for SBP and ∼3 mm Hg for DBP among carriers in 2492 European ancestry Framingham Heart Study (FHS) subjects. These findings support a potentially large role for these variants in interindividual variation in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP) in the population. The present study focuses on replicating the analyses completed by Ji et al to identify effects of rare variants in the population-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
We attempted to replicate the findings by Ji et al by applying their criteria to identify putative loss-of-function variants with allele frequency <0.001 and complete conservation across a set of orthologs, to exome sequencing data from 7444 European ancestry participants of the ARIC study.
Although we failed to replicate the previous findings when applying their methods to the ARIC study data, we observed a similar effect when we restricted analyses to the subset of variants they observed.
These results simultaneously support the utility of exome sequencing data for studying extremely rare coding variants in hypertension and underscore the need for improved filtering methods for identifying functional variants in human sequences.