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Human genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified numerous associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and pulmonary function. Proving that there is a causal relationship between GWAS SNPs, many of which are noncoding and without known functional impact, and these traits has been elusive. Furthermore, noncoding GWAS-identified SNPs may exert trans-regulatory effects rather than impact the proximal gene. Noncoding variants in 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 4 (HTR4) are associated with pulmonary function in human GWASs. To gain insight into whether this association is causal, we tested whether Htr4-null mice have altered pulmonary function. We found that HTR4-deficient mice have 12% higher baseline lung resistance and also increased methacholine-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) as measured by lung resistance (27%), tissue resistance (48%), and tissue elastance (30%). Furthermore, Htr4-null mice were more sensitive to serotonin-induced AHR. In models of exposure to bacterial lipopolysaccharide, bleomycin, and allergic airway inflammation induced by house dust mites, pulmonary function and cytokine profiles in Htr4-null mice differed little from their wild-type controls. The findings of altered baseline lung function and increased AHR in Htr4-null mice support a causal relationship between genetic variation in HTR4 and pulmonary function identified in human GWAS. © FASEB.


John S House, Huiling Li, Laura M DeGraff, Gordon Flake, Darryl C Zeldin, Stephanie J London. Genetic variation in HTR4 and lung function: GWAS follow-up in mouse. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 2015 Jan;29(1):323-35

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PMID: 25342126

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