Numerous common genetic variants have been linked to blood pressure, but no underlying mechanism has been elucidated. Population studies have revealed that the variant rs5068 (A/G) in the 3? untranslated region of NPPA, the gene encoding atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), is associated with blood pressure. We selected individuals on the basis of rs5068 genotype (AG vs. AA) and fed them a low- or high-salt diet for 1 week, after which they were challenged with an intravenous saline infusion. On both diets, before and after saline administration, ANP levels were up to 50% higher in AG individuals than in AA individuals, a difference comparable to the changes induced by high-salt diet or saline infusion. In contrast, B-type natriuretic peptide levels did not differ by rs5068 genotype. We identified a microRNA, miR-425, that is expressed in human atria and ventricles and is predicted to bind the sequence spanning rs5068 for the A, but not the G, allele. miR-425 silenced NPPA mRNA in an allele-specific manner, with the G allele conferring resistance to miR-425. This study identifies miR-425 as a regulator of ANP production, raising the possibility that miR-425 antagonists could be used to treat disorders of salt overload, including hypertension and heart failure.
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