Mutations in EPAS1 in congenital heart disease in Tibetans

Biosci Rep. 2018 Dec 18;38(6):BSR20181389. doi: 10.1042/BSR20181389. Print 2018 Dec 21.


EPAS1 encodes HIF2 and is closely related to high altitude chronic hypoxia. Mutations in the EPAS1 coding sequence are associated with several kinds of human diseases, including syndromic congenital heart disease (CHD). However, whether there are rare EPAS1 coding variants related to Tibetan non-syndromic CHD have not been fully investigated. A group of 286 Tibetan patients with non-syndromic CHD and 250 unrelated Tibetan healthy controls were recruited from Qinghai, China. Sanger sequencing was performed to identify variations in the EPAS1 coding sequence. The novelty of identified variants was confirmed by the examination of 1000G and ExAC databases. Control samples were screened to establish that the rare candidate variants were specific to the Tibetan patients with non-syndromic CHD. Bioinformatics software was used to assess the conservation of the mutations and to predict their effects. The effect of EPAS1 mutations on the transcription of its target gene, VEGF, was assessed by dual-luciferase reporter assay. The mammalian two-hybrid assay was used to study the protein interactions between HIF2 and PHD2 or pVHL. We identified two novel EPAS1 mutations (NM_001430: c.607A>C, p.N203H; c.2170G>T, p.G724W) in two patients. The N203H mutation significantly affected the transcription activity of the VEGF promoter, especially in conditions of hypoxia. The N203H mutation also showed enhanced protein-protein interactions between HIF2 and PHD2, and HIF2 and pVHL, especially in conditions of hypoxia. However, the G724W mutation did not demonstrate the same effects. Our results indicate that EPAS1 mutations might have a potential causative effect on the development of Tibetan non-syndromic CHD.

Keywords: Congenital heart disease; EPSA1 gene; Tibetans; hypoxia; mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Heart Diseases / genetics*
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / pathology
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / pathology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Tibet / epidemiology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1