Familial pulmonary arterial hypertension (FPAH) is a progressive, fatal disease caused by mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 gene (BMPR2). FPAH is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, and shows incomplete penetrance in that many with BMPR2 mutations do not develop FPAH, suggesting a role for, as yet unidentified, modifier genes in disease penetrance. We hypothesized that variable levels of expression of the wild-type (WT) BMPR2 allele could act as a modifier and influence penetrance of FPAH. WT BMPR2 levels were determined by real-time PCR analysis in lymphoblastoid (LB) cell lines derived from normal controls and individuals with FPAH. The FPAH kindreds analyzed carried mutations that result in the activation of nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway, which leads to the degradation of the mutant RNA, thus ensuring that only the WT BMPR2 transcripts will be detected in the real-time assay. Our data show that WT and mutant BMPR2 levels can be reproducibly measured in patient-derived LB cell lines, and that unaffected mutation carrier-derived LB cell lines have higher levels of WT BMPR2 transcripts than FPAH patient-derived LB cell lines (p
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.