Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) has been linked to variants in the coding sequence of desmosomal genes. The potential contribution of non-coding desmoglein-2 (DSG2) variants for development of ARVC is undescribed. We sequenced 1450 base pairs upstream of ATG in the DSG2 gene in 65 unrelated patients diagnosed with ARVC (10 borderline cases). Identified variants was evaluated by cosegregation and allele population frequency analysis, in silico tools, immunohistological investigations of myocardial biopsies, gene reporter assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), and chromatin immunoprecipitation. The genetic analysis identified one novel, rare heterozygous DSG2 upstream variant (-317G > A) in a genetically unexplained ARVC patient. The variant segregated with signs of disease, was absent in publicly available databases, and affected a predicted binding site for activating protein-1 (AP-1). Immunohistochemical analysis of a myocardial biopsy from the -317G > A patient showed a marked reduction in DSG2 protein levels compared to healthy controls. Luciferase reporter gene assays showed promoter activity of the identified DSG2 upstream region and a general reduction in transcriptional activity in the presence of the minor DSG2_A allele (p < .01). Moreover, the DSG2_A allele reduced DSG2 activation by TGF-beta1 and a protein kinase C pathway activator (PMA; all p < .001 vs. DSG2_G). EMSAs showed altered transcription factor binding in presence of the DSG2_A allele. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays in wild type epithelial cells identified AP-1 components c-FOS and c-JUN at the -317 locus. In conclusion, the non-coding DSG2 promoter variant -317G > A reduces DSG2 transcription in vitro and reduced myocardial DSG2 protein levels were observed in vivo. Our data support a contribution of non-coding DSG2 variants to the pathogenesis of ARVC.
- Gene regulation