Influence of a Coronary Artery Disease-Associated Genetic Variant on FURIN Expression and Effect of Furin on Macrophage Behavior.
journal contributionposted on 09.08.2018, 14:21 by Guojun Zhao, Wei Yang, Jingchun Wu, Bairu Chen, Xu Yang, Junhui Chen, David G. McVey, Catherine Andreadi, Peng Gong, Tom R. Webb, Nilesh J. Samani, Shu Ye
OBJECTIVE: Genome-wide association studies have revealed a robust association between genetic variation on chromosome 15q26.1 and coronary artery disease (CAD) susceptibility; however, the underlying biological mechanism is still unknown. The lead CAD-associated genetic variant (rs17514846) at this locus resides in the FURIN gene. In advanced atherosclerotic plaques, furin is expressed primarily in macrophages. We investigated whether this CAD-associated variant alters FURIN expression and whether furin affects monocyte/macrophage behavior. APPROACH AND RESULTS: A quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that leukocytes from individuals carrying the CAD risk allele of rs17514846 had increased FURIN expression. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed higher RNA polymerase II occupancy in the FURIN gene in mononuclear cells of individuals carrying this allele. A reporter gene assay in transiently transfected monocytes/macrophages indicated that the CAD risk allele had higher transcriptional activity than the nonrisk allele. An analysis of isogenic monocyte cell lines created by CRISPR-mediated genome editing showed that isogenic cells with the A/A genotype for rs17514846 had higher FURIN expression levels than the isogenic cells with the C/C genotype. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay exhibited preferential binding of a nuclear protein to the risk allele. Studies of monocytes/macrophages with lentivirus-mediated furin overexpression or shRNA-induced furin knockdown showed that furin overexpression promoted monocyte/macrophage migration, increased proliferation, and reduced apoptosis whereas furin knockdown had the opposite effects. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that the CAD-associated genetic variant increases FURIN expression and that furin promotes monocyte/macrophage migration and proliferation while inhibiting apoptosis, providing a biological mechanism for the association between variation at the chromosome 15q26.1 locus and CAD risk.