PLoS ONE 16/03/10 08:00 Meian He et al.

There is ample evidence that Hsp70 takes part in the progress of coronary heart disease (CHD). This implies that genetic variants of Hsp70 genes such as HSPA8 (HSC70) gene might contribute to the development of CHD. The present study aimed to investigate whether certain genetic variants of HSPA8 gene are associated with CHD in Han Chinese people.

Methodology/Principal Findings
A total of 2006 subjects (1003 CHD cases and 1003 age- and sex- matched healthy controls) were recruited. Genetic variants in the HSPA8 gene were identified by sequencing of the gene in 60 unrelated Chinese. Four tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) (rs2236659, rs2276077, rs10892958, and rs1461496) were selected and genotyped. The function of the significant SNP was evaluated using luciferase reporter assays in two cell lines. By sequencing the promoter and all exons and introns of the HSPA8 gene, 23 genetic variants were identified. One promoter SNP rs2236659 was associated with susceptibility to CHD. Carriers of the “C” allele of rs2236659 had decreased CHD risk with odds ratio (OR) of 0.78 (95% CI: 0.62, 0.98; P = 0.033) after adjustment for conventional risk factors. Haplotype analyses indicated that haplotype GCGC contributed to a lower CHD risk (OR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.65, 0.93; P = 0.006) compared with the common haplotype AGGT. In a transfection assay, the C allele of rs2236659 showed a 37–40% increase in luciferase expression of the reporter gene luciferase in endothelial and non-endothelial cells compared with the T allele.

These findings suggest that genetic variants in HSPA8 gene (especially promoter SNP rs2236659) contribute to the CHD susceptibility by affecting its expression level.