Elucidation of the genetic causes of bicuspid aortic valve disease.


Jan Gehlen, Anja Stundl, Radoslaw Debiec, Federica Fontana, Markus Krane, Dinara Sharipova, Christopher P Nelson, Baravan Al-Kassou, Ann Sophie Giel, Jan Malte Sinning, Christopher Mh Bruenger, Carolin F Zelck, Laura L Koebbe, Peter S Braund, Thomas R Webb, Simon Hetherington, Stephan Ensminger, Buntaro Fujita, Salah A Mohamed, Malakh Shrestha, Heike Krueger, Matthias Siepe, Fabian Alexander Kari, Peter Nordbeck, Larissa Buravezky, Malte Kelm, Verena Veulemans, Matti Adam, Stephan Baldus, Karl Ludwig Laugwitz, Yannick Haas, Matthias Karck, Uwe Mehlhorn, Lars Oliver Conzelmann, Ingo Breitenbach, Corinna Lebherz, Paul Urbanski, Won Keun Kim, Joscha Kandels, David Ellinghaus, Ulrike Nowak-Goettl, Per Hoffmann, Felix Wirth, Stefanie Doppler, Harald Lahm, Martina Dreßen, Moritz von Scheidt, Katharina Knoll, Thorsten Kessler, Christian Hengstenberg, Heribert Schunkert, Georg Nickenig, Markus M Nöthen, Aidan P Bolger, Salim Abdelilah-Seyfried, Nilesh J Samani, Jeanette Erdmann, Teresa Trenkwalder, Johannes Schumacher

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Impact factor




The present study aims to characterise the genetic risk architecture of bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) disease, the most common congenital heart defect.

Methods and results

We carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) including 2,236 BAV patients and 11,604 controls. This led to the identification of a new risk locus for BAV on chromosome 3q29. The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2550262 was genome-wide significant BAV-associated (P = 3.49 × 10-08) and was replicated in an independent case-control sample. The risk locus encodes a deleterious missense variant in MUC4 (p.Ala4821Ser), a gene that is involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation. Mechanistical studies in zebrafish revealed that loss of Muc4 led to a delay in cardiac valvular development suggesting that loss of MUC4 may also play a role in aortic valve malformation. The GWAS also confirmed previously reported BAV risk loci at PALMD (P = 3.97 × 10-16), GATA4 (P = 1.61 × 10-09), and TEX41 (P = 7.68 × 10-04). In addition, the genetic BAV architecture was examined beyond the single-marker level revealing that a substantial fraction of BAV heritability is polygenic and approximately 20% of the observed heritability can be explained by our GWAS data. Furthermore, we used the largest human single cell atlas for foetal gene expression and show that the transcriptome profile in endothelial cells is a major source contributing to BAV pathology.


Our study provides a deeper understanding of the genetic risk architecture of BAV formation on the single-marker and polygenic level.