Generation of Hypertension-Associated STK39 Polymorphism Knockin Cell Lines With the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/Cas9 System

Hypertension. 2015 Dec;66(6):1199-206. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.05872. Epub 2015 Sep 28.


Previous genome-wide association studies identified serine threonine kinase 39 (STK39), encoding STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase, as one of a limited number of hypertension susceptibility genes. A recent meta-analysis confirmed the association of STK39 intronic polymorphism rs3754777 with essential hypertension, among previously reported hypertension-associated STK39 polymorphisms. However, the biochemical function of this polymorphism in the mechanism responsible for hypertension is yet to be clarified. We generated rs3754777G>A knockin human cell lines with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-mediated genome engineering. Homozygous (A/A) and heterozygous (G/A) knockin human embryonic kidney cell lines were generated using a double nickase, single-guide RNAs targeting STK39 intron 5 around single-nucleotide polymorphism, and a 100-bp donor single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction with sequencing analyses revealed the identical STK39 transcripts among the wild-type and both knockin cell lines. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction showed increased STK39 mRNA expression, and immunoblot analysis revealed increases in total and phosphorylated STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase with increased phosphorylated Na-K-Cl cotransporter isoform 1 in both knockin cell lines. The largest increases in these molecules were observed in the homozygous cell line. These findings indicated that this intronic polymorphism increases STK39 transcription, leading to activation of the STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase-solute carrier family 12A signaling cascade. Increased interactions between STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase and the target cation-chloride cotransporters may be responsible for hypertension susceptibility in individuals with this polymorphism.

Keywords: SLC12A transporters; SPAK protein; clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats; hypertension; single nucleotide polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Cell Line
  • Essential Hypertension
  • Gene Expression
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / genetics*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Introns / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters / metabolism
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2 / metabolism


  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • STK39 protein, human