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Genetic network identifies novel pathways contributing to atherosclerosis susceptibility in the innominate artery

Albright, J;Quizon, PM;Lusis, AJ;Bennett, BJ;

Atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, results from both genetic and environmental factors.,In the current study we take a systems-based approach using weighted gene co-expression analysis to identify a candidate pathway of genes related to atherosclerosis. Bioinformatic analyses are performed to identify candidate genes and interactions and several novel genes are characterized using in-vitro studies.,We identify 1 coexpression module associated with innominate artery atherosclerosis that is also enriched for inflammatory and macrophage gene signatures. Using a series of bioinformatics analysis, we further prioritize the genes in this pathway and identify Cd44 as a critical mediator of the atherosclerosis. We validate our predictions generated by the network analysis using Cd44 knockout mice.,These results indicate that alterations in Cd44 expression mediate inflammation through a complex transcriptional network involving a number of previously uncharacterized genes.