Angiotensin-1-converting enzyme (ACE) plasma concentration is influenced by multiple ACE-linked quantitative trait nucleotides.
Cox R., Bouzekri N., Martin S., Southam L., Hugill A., Golamaully M., Cooper R., Adeyemo A., Soubrier F., Ward R., Lathrop GM., Matsuda F., Farrall M.
Circulating angiotensin-1-converting enzyme (ACE) is a highly heritable trait, and a major component of the genetic variance maps to the region of the ACE gene. The strong effect of the locus, and the interest in ACE as a candidate gene for cardiovascular disorders, has led to extensive investigation of its relationship to the ACE phenotype, providing one of the most complete examples of quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis in humans. Resequencing of ACE followed by haplotype analysis in families of British and French origin has shown that the genetic variants that are primarily associated with the ACE trait map to an 18 kb interval flanked by two intragenic, ancestral recombination breakpoints. This critical interval contains dozens of ACE-associated variants in Caucasians, but identification of which of these directly influence ACE concentration is ambiguous because of the almost complete linkage disequilibrium in European populations. In a complementary sequencing and genotyping study of individuals from West African families, we show that this population has much greater haplotype diversity across the gene. Through analysis of the contrasting relationships of the trait phenotype with haplotypes that carry different allelic combinations from those observed in Caucasians, we demonstrate that (at least) two major intragenic sites within the critical interval and (at least) one minor promoter site are associated with the ACE quantitative trait through additive effects. These results point to the importance of analysing diverse populations with different gene genealogies in gene-association studies.