Many Mendelian traits are likely unrecognized owing to absence of traditional segregation patterns in families due to causation by de novo mutations, incomplete penetrance, and/or variable expressivity. Genome-level sequencing can overcome these complications. Extreme childhood phenotypes are promising candidates for new Mendelian traits. One example is early onset hypertension, a rare form of a global cause of morbidity and mortality. We performed exome sequencing of 40 unrelated subjects with hypertension due to primary aldosteronism by age 10. Five subjects (12.5%) shared the identical, previously unidentified, heterozygous CACNA1H(M1549V) mutation. Two mutations were demonstrated to be de novo events, and all mutations occurred independently. CACNA1H encodes a voltage-gated calcium channel (CaV3.2) expressed in adrenal glomerulosa. CACNA1H(M1549V) showed drastically impaired channel inactivation and activation at more hyperpolarized potentials, producing increased intracellular Ca(2+), the signal for aldosterone production. This mutation explains disease pathogenesis and provides new insight into mechanisms mediating aldosterone production and hypertension.
School of Medicine