Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Human heart rate: heritability of resting and stress values in twin pairs, and influence of genetic variation in the adrenergic pathway at a microribonucleic acid (microrna) motif in the 3'-UTR of cytochrome b561 [corrected].

PMID 24140660


The goal of this study was to understand the role of genetic variation in the catecholamine biosynthetic pathway for control of human heart rate (HR). Human HR is an integrated cardiovascular trait predictive of morbidity and survival. Because the autonomic pathway exerts rapid control over the heart, we probed the role of heredity in the control of HR, focusing on a component of the autonomic sympathetic pathway already predictive of outflow responses: cytochrome b561 (CYB561), the electron shuttle in catecholamine vesicle membranes for transmitter biosynthesis. We studied hereditary control of HR with the twin pair design, at rest and during environmental (cold) stress. Single nucleotide polymorphism disruption of a microribonucleic acid (microRNA) recognition motif in the human CYB561 3'-UTR was identified computationally, and its differential effect on gene expression was demonstrated in a transfected luciferase reporter/3'-UTR variant. We exposed stem cell-derived human embryoid bodies to the microRNA mimic or antagomir oligonucleotides, and we observed the effects on contraction rate in proto-hearts. Substantial heritability (h(2)) was demonstrated by using twin pair variance components for both basal/resting HR (h(2) 50.9 ± 6.4% of trait variation, pxa0= 2.47xa0× 10(-10)) and stress-augmented HR (h(2) 55.1 ± 5.9%, pxa0= 8.79xa0× 10(-13)), and the 2 HR traits shared genetic determination (genetic covariance ρG 0.747 ± 0.058, pxa0= 2.85xa0× 10(-9)). CYB561 displayed 1 common genetic variant in the transcript region: A+1485G (rs3087776), in the 3'-UTR, 1485 bp downstream of the termination codon, in a conserved region, with the A-allele ancestral in primates. In a twin/sibling sample (nxa0= 576), A+1485G influenced HR, both at rest (pxa0= 0.010) and after environmental stress (pxa0=xa00.002), with the minor (A) allele displaying a recessive effect with lower HR. The effect of A+1485G on HR was extended by meta-analysis into 2 additional population samples (total nxa0= 2,579), and the influence remained directionally consistent and significant (pxa0= 0.007). A+1485G disrupted a microRNA (human microribonucleic acid-1294 [hsa-miR-1294]) recognition motif in the 3'-UTR, as demonstrated by a transfected luciferase reporter/human 3'-UTR variant system in 2 different neuronal/neuroendocrine cell types. The microRNA effect was further documented by cotransfection of an hsa-miR-1294 mimic, yielding an exaggerated decline in expression of the A-allele (better match) reporter (pxa0= 4.3xa0× 10(-5)). Similar findings of differential 3'-UTR allelic susceptibility to hsa-miR-1294 were noted during expression of the full-length human CYB561 messenger ribonucleic acid with its cognate 3'-UTR. Finally, exposure of stem cell-derived human embryoid bodies to hsa-miR-1294 mimic or antagomir oligonucleotides yielded directionally opposite effects on contraction rate in proto-hearts. HR is a substantially heritable trait, with genetic influence by variation in the adrenergic pathway, here shown for messenger ribonucleic acid translational control at the CYB561 step of transmitter formation. The results have implications for potentially modifiable autonomic pathways that influence this risk trait in the population.