Candidate gene identification following linkage: Search for hypertension susceptibility genes

Ruth Ann Barkley, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Following up genetic linkage studies to identify the underlying susceptibility gene(s) for complex disease traits is an arduous yet biologically and clinically important task. Complex traits, such as hypertension, are considered polygenic with many genes influencing risk, each with small effects. Chromosome 2 has been consistently identified as a genomic region with genetic linkage evidence suggesting that one or more loci contribute to blood pressure levels and hypertension status. Using combined positional candidate gene methods, the Family Blood Pressure Program has concentrated efforts in investigating this region of chromosome 2 in an effort to identify underlying candidate hypertension susceptibility gene(s). Initial informatics efforts identified the boundaries of the region and the known genes within it. A total of 82 polymorphic sites in eight positional candidate genes were genotyped in a large hypothesis-generating sample consisting of 1640 African Americans, 1339 whites, and 1616 Mexican Americans. To adjust for multiple comparisons, resampling-based false discovery adjustment was applied, extending traditional resampling methods to sibship samples. Following this adjustment for multiple comparisons, SLC4A5, a sodium bicarbonate transporter, was identified as a primary candidate gene for hypertension. Polymorphisms in SLC4A5 were subsequently genotyped and analyzed for validation in two populations of African Americans (N = 461; N = 778) and two of whites (N = 550; N = 967). Again, SNPs within SLC4A5 were significantly associated with blood pressure levels and hypertension status. While not identifying a single causal DNA sequence variation that is significantly associated with blood pressure levels and hypertension status across all samples, the results further implicate SLC4A5 as a candidate hypertension susceptibility gene, validating previous evidence for one or more genes on chromosome 2 that influence hypertension related phenotypes in the population-at-large. The methodology and results reported provide a case study of one approach for following up the results of genetic linkage analyses to identify genes influencing complex traits.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Barkley, Ruth Ann, "Candidate gene identification following linkage: Search for hypertension susceptibility genes" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3131489.