Novel Mutations and Decreased Expression of the Epigenetic Regulator TET2 in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

Potus F, Pauciulo M, Cook E, Zhu N, Hsieh A, Welch C, Shen Y, Tian L, Lima P, Mewburn J, D'Arsigny C, Lutz K, Coleman A, Damico R, Snetsinger B, Martin A, Hassoun P, Nichols W, Chung W, Rauh M, Archer S

Circulation, 2020.

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Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a lethal vasculopathy. Hereditary cases are associated with germline mutations in BMPR2 and 16 other genes. However, these mutations occur in under 25% of idiopathic PAH patients (IPAH) and are rare in PAH associated with connective tissue diseases (APAH). Preclinical studies suggest epigenetic dysregulation, including altered DNA methylation, promotes PAH. Somatic mutations of Tet-methylcytosine-dioxygenase-2 (TET2), a key enzyme in DNA demethylation, occur in cardiovascular disease and are associated with clonal hematopoiesis, inflammation and adverse vascular remodeling. The role of TET2 in PAH is unknown. Methods: To test for a role of TET2, we utilized a cohort of 2572 cases from the PAH Biobank. Within this cohort, gene-specific rare variant association tests were performed using 1832 unrelated European PAH patients and 7509 non-Finnish European gnomAD subjects as controls. In an independent cohort of 140 patients, we quantified TET2 expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. To assess causality, we investigated hemodynamic and histologic evidence of PAH in hematopoietic Tet2-knockout mice. Results: We observed an increased burden of rare, predicted deleterious, germline variants in TET2 in PAH patients of European ancestry (9/1832) compared to controls (6/7509; relative risk=6, p=0.00067). Assessing the whole cohort, 0.39% (10/2572) of patients had 12 TET2 mutations (75% predicted germline and 25% somatic). These patients had no mutations in other PAH-related genes. Patients with TET2 mutations were older (71±7 years versus 48±19 years, p<0.0001) unresponsive to vasodilator challenge (0/7 vs 140/1055 (13.2%)), had lower PVR (5.2±3.1 versus 10.5±7.0 Woods units, p=0.02) and had increased inflammation (including elevation of IL-1β). Circulating TET2 expression did not correlate with age and was decreased in >86% of PAH patients. Tet2-knockout mice spontaneously developed PAH, adverse pulmonary vascular remodeling and inflammation, with elevated levels of cytokines, including IL-1β. Chronic therapy with an antibody targeting IL-1β blockade regressed PAH. Conclusions: PAH is the first human disease related to potential TET2 germline mutations. Inherited and acquired abnormalities of TET2 occur in 0.39% of PAH cases. Decreased TET2 expression is ubiquitous and has potential as a PAH biomarker.