The goals of our study were to evaluate the haplotype pattern at the Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) locus and prospectively test the association between the ROCK2 haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) with hypertension for verified incident hypertensive patients (n=607) and healthy, normotensive controls (n=586) in a HYPGENE study. Rho-associated kinases (ROCKs) play a central role in signaling pathways that are involved in vascular smooth muscle contraction and endothelial nitric oxide availability. Using a set of stringent criteria (minor allele frequency ≥0.05, pairwise r2≥0.95), we identified 18 tagSNPs from the 109 SNPs available in the HapMap Caucasian data set. TagSNPs were genotyped using the Illumina BeadStation platform. The 18 tagSNPs consisted of two linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks. A haplotype defined by four SNPs (rs965665, rs10178332, rs6755196, rs10929732) in LD block 2 was recessively associated with a lower risk of hypertension (p=0.003). Homozygotes for the minor alleles had an 85% lower risk of hypertension than carriers of the common allele. The associations were independent of baseline age, cardiorespiratory fitness, body mass index, sex, and follow-up time. The LD block 2 spans about 137 kb of genomic DNA at the 5′-end of the ROCK2 locus and covers exons encoding the kinase domain of the protein. Our data strongly suggest that a major haplotype block at the ROCK2 locus is recessively associated with a lower risk of hypertension. Identification of functional mutation(s) could thus help in the development of ROCK2-specific treatments.
- Haplotype block
- Haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms
- Linkage disequilibrium
- Rho-associated kinase 2