Gene panel diagnostics reveals new pathogenic variants in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Respir Res. 2022 Mar 27;23(1):74. doi: 10.1186/s12931-022-01987-x.


Background: A genetic predisposition can lead to the rare disease pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Most mutations have been identified in the gene BMPR2 in heritable PAH. However, as of today 15 further PAH genes have been described. The exact prevalence across these genes particularly in other PAH forms remains uncertain. We present the distribution of mutations across PAH genes identified at the largest German referral centre for genetic diagnostics in PAH over a course of > 3 years.

Methods: Our PAH-specific gene diagnostics panel was used to sequence 325 consecutive PAH patients from March 2017 to October 2020. For the first year the panel contained thirteen PAH genes: ACVRL1, BMPR1B, BMPR2, CAV1, EIF2AK4, ENG, GDF2, KCNA5, KCNK3, KLF2, SMAD4, SMAD9 and TBX4. These were extended by the three genes ATP13A3, AQP1 and SOX17 from March 2018 onwards following the genes' discovery.

Results: A total of 79 mutations were identified in 74 patients (23%). Of the variants 51 (65%) were located in the gene BMPR2 while the other 28 variants were found in ten further PAH genes. We identified disease-causing variants in the genes AQP1, KCNK3 and SOX17 in families with at least two PAH patients. Mutations were not only detected in patients with heritable and idiopathic but also with associated PAH.

Conclusions: Genetic defects were identified in 23% of the patients in a total of 11 PAH genes. This illustrates the benefit of the specific gene panel containing all known PAH genes.

Keywords: Bi-allelic variants; Gene panel diagnostics; Genetic testing; Pulmonary arterial hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors, Type II / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / genetics
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / pathology
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension* / genetics


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • EIF2AK4 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • ACVRL1 protein, human
  • Activin Receptors, Type II
  • ATP13A3 protein, human
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases