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Atrial fibrillation associated common risk variants in SYNE2 lead to lower expression of nesprin-2α1 and increased nuclear stiffness

By Nana Liu, Jeffrey Hsu, Gautam Mahajan, Han Sun, John Barnard, David R. Van Wagoner, Chandrasekhar R. Kothapalli, Mina K. Chung, Jonathan D. Smith

Posted 19 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/708057

Rationale Atrial fibrillation (AF) genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified significant associations for rs1152591 and linked variants in the SYNE2 gene encoding the nesprin-2 protein that connects the nuclear membrane with the cytoskeleton Objective Determine the effects of the AF-associated rs1152591 and rs1152595, two linked intronic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), on SYNE2 expression and investigate the mechanisms for their association with AF. Methods and Results RNA sequencing of human left atrial appendage (LAA) tissues indicated that rs1152591 and rs1152595 were significantly associated with the expressions of SYNE2α1, a short mRNA isoform, without an effect on the expression of the full-length SYNE2 mRNA. SYNE2α1 mRNA uses an alternative transcription start site and encodes an N-terminal deleted 62 kDa nesprin-2α1 isoform, which can act as a dominant-negative on nuclear-cytoskeleton connectivity. Western blot and qPCR assays confirmed that AF risk alleles of both SNPs were associated with lower expression of nesprin-2α1 in human LAA tissues. Reporter gene transfections demonstrated that the risk vs. reference alleles of rs1152591 and rs1152595 had decreased enhancer activity. SYNE2 siRNA knockdown (KD) or nesprin-2α1 overexpression studies in human stem cell-derived induced cardiomyocytes (iCMs) resulted in ~12.5 % increases in the nuclear area compared to controls (p<0.001). Atomic force microscopy demonstrated that SYNE2 KD or nesprin-2α1 overexpression led to 57.5% or 33.2% decreases, respectively, in nuclear stiffness compared to controls (p< 0.0001). Conclusions AF-associated SNPs rs1152591 and rs1152595 downregulate the expression of SYNE2α1, increasing nuclear-cytoskeletal connectivity and nuclear stiffness. The resulting increase in mechanical stress may play a role in the development of AF. * AF : Atrial fibrillation CH : Calponin-homology cis-eQTL : cis-expression quantitative trait locus EDMD : Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy iCMs : Human stem cell-derived induced cardiomyocytes KASH : Klarsicht-ANC-Syne-homology KD : Knockdown LAA : Left atrial appendage LD : Linkage disequilibrium LINC : The linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton SR : Spectrin-repeat Scr : Scramble SUN : Sad1p/UNC-84 TSS : Transcription start site

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