Research uncovers link between gene regulator and high blood pressure

A new study investigating the effects of the gene Regulator of G protein Signalling 5 (RGS5) has revealed a strong connection between RGS5 and hypertension. Ruth Ganss

The study, which was led by Professor Ruth Ganss, from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, was published this month in the leading cardiovascular journal, Circulation Research.

Professor Ganss's team has previously uncovered the significant effects of RGS5 on blood vessel remodelling in tumours.

The new research has demonstrated that RGS5 also controls the regulation of vessel remodelling in arteries, leading to high blood pressure when RGS5 is removed from the system.

Professor Ganss said that vessels without RGS5 are much more strongly contracted than they should be which leads to high blood pressure.

"We have also identified major signalling pathways which control vessel contraction, hypertension and pathological vessel remodelling under chronic hypertension. These pathways are controlled by RGS5 which makes it a kind of master regulator."

Professor Ganss' research has initially focused on vascular remodelling in the context of tumour growth, but she was able to expand her research thanks to a well-timed infrastructure grant.

"A few years ago, I obtained infrastructure funding from the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation to buy highly specialised equipment to measure blood pressure in preclinical models. This has put WAIMR in a unique position in Western Australia to conduct these studies.

"This enabled us to branch out from tumours to cardiovascular disease because we had postulated that blood vessels in both systems share common regulatory pathways," she said.

The latest publication was a result of productive collaboration between a clinical cardiologist from Canberra, a physiologist from Melbourne and a dedicated research team from Western Australia involving UWA and WAIMR researchers.

"This is a true multidisciplinary effort to understand underlying mechanisms of a major disease, namely hypertension," Professor Ganss said.

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