MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are recognized as important regulators of cardiac development, hypertrophy and fibrosis. Recent studies have demonstrated that genetic variations which cause alterations in miRNA:target interactions can lead to disease. We hypothesized that genetic variations in miRNAs that regulate cardiac hypertrophy/fibrosis might be involved in generation of the cardiac phenotype in patients diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). To investigate this question, we Sanger sequenced 18 miRNA genes previously implicated in myocyte hypertrophy/fibrosis and apoptosis, using genomic DNA isolated from the leukocytes of 199 HCM patients. We identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs6971711, C57T SNP) at the 17th position of mature miR-590-3p (= 57th position of premiR-590) that is common in individuals of African ancestry. SNP frequency was higher in African American HCM patients (n = 55) than ethnically-matched controls (n = 100), but the difference was not statistically significant (8.2% vs. 6.5%; p = 0.5). Using a cell culture system, we discovered that presence of this SNP resulted in markedly lower levels of mature miR-590-5p (39 ± 16%, p<0.003) and miR-590-3p (20 ± 2%, p<0.003), when compared with wild-type (WT) miR-590, without affecting levels of pri-miR-590 and pre-miR-590. Consistent with this finding, the SNP resulted in reduced target suppression when compared to WT miR-590 (71% suppression by WT vs 60% suppression by SNP, p<0.03). Since miR-590 can regulate TGF-β, Activin A and Akt signaling, SNP-induced reduction in miR-590 biogenesis could influence cardiac phenotype by de-repression of these signaling pathways. Since the SNP is only present in African Americans, population studies in this patient population would be valuable to investigate effects of this SNP on myocyte function and cardiac physiology.
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