CONTACT: JENNIFER BROWN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9917; fax(319) 335-8034
Release: Aug. 28, 2000
UI researchers get $1.8 million NIH grant to study blood pressure gene
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa researchers have been awarded a five-year,
$1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the regulation
of a gene that controls blood pressure.
Curt D. Sigmund, Ph.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine, and
physiology and biophysics, will lead the study, which seeks to understand
how a gene called renin is activated in the body and how abnormalities in
its activation may cause hypertension, or high blood pressure. Sigmund is
also director of the UI Center on Functional Genomics of Hypertension.
Genes are the templates for proteins. When the renin gene is expressed,
or activated, its protein is made and plays a key role in the body's blood
pressure control system. Like all genes, renin is subjected to forces in the
body and physiological cues that cause it to produce different amounts of
its protein product at different times and places in the body.
"We will focus our attention on a DNA sequence called an "enhancer"
that has been implicated by my research group to play a major role in regulating
expression of the renin gene," Sigmund said.
The researchers plan to determine whether the enhancer sequence is important
for renin expression and identify factors that bind to the enhancer thereby
controlling renin expression. The identification of factors regulating the
gene may eventually lead to novel drug targets to control hypertension in
"By understanding how this gene is regulated in normal healthy individuals,
we may be able to better understand how inappropriate regulation of the gene
causes hypertension," said Sigmund. "This knowledge could be put
to use to improve treatment of this condition."
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