Thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAAD) cause significant morbidity and mortality, but the genetic origins of TAAD remain largely unknown. In a genome-wide analysis of 418 sporadic TAAD cases, we identified 47 copy number variant (CNV) regions that were enriched in or unique to TAAD patients compared to population controls. Gene ontology, expression profiling, and network analysis showed that genes within TAAD CNVs regulate smooth muscle cell adhesion or contractility and interact with the smooth muscle-specific isoforms of α-actin and β-myosin, which are known to cause familial TAAD when altered. Enrichment of these gene functions in rare CNVs was replicated in independent cohorts with sporadic TAAD (STAAD, n = 387) and inherited TAAD (FTAAD, n = 88). The overall prevalence of rare CNVs (23%) was significantly increased in FTAAD compared with STAAD patients (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.03). Our findings suggest that rare CNVs disrupting smooth muscle adhesion or contraction contribute to both sporadic and familial disease.
Copyright © 2010 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.