Evidence from multiple linkage and genome-wide association studies suggest that human chromosome 2 (HSA2) contains alleles that influence blood pressure (BP). Homologous to a large segment of HSA2 is rat chromosome 9 (RNO9), to which a BP quantitative trait locus (QTL) was previously mapped. The objective of the current study was to further resolve this BP QTL. Eleven congenic strains with introgressed segments spanning <81.8 kb to <1.33 Mb were developed by introgressing genomic segments of RNO9 from the Dahl salt-resistant (R) rat onto the genome of the Dahl salt-sensitive (S) rat and tested for BP. The congenic strain with the shortest introgressed segment spanning <81.8 kb significantly lowered BP of the hypertensive S rat by 25 mmHg and significantly increased its mean survival by 45 days. In contrast, two other congenic strains had increased BP compared with the S. We focused on the <81.8 kb congenic strain, which represents the shortest genomic segment to which a BP QTL has been mapped to date in any species. Sequencing of this entire region in both S and R rats detected 563 variants. The region did not contain any known or predicted rat protein coding genes. Furthermore, a whole genome renal transcriptome analysis between S and the <81.8 kb S.R congenic strain revealed alterations in several critical genes implicated in renal homeostasis. Taken together, our results provide the basis for future studies to examine the relationship between the candidate variants within the QTL region and the renal differentially expressed genes as potential causal mechanisms for BP regulation.
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