Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a cardiac hormone that occurs predominantly in the ventricle. To study the roles of BNP in chronic cardiovascular regulation, we isolated mouse BNP cDNA and genomic clones, and generated transgenic mice with elevated plasma BNP concentration. The mouse BNP gene was organized into three exons and two introns. Two BNP mRNA species were identified, which were generated by the alternative mRNA splicing. The ventricle was a major site of BNP production in mice. Mouse preproBNP was a 121- (or 120-) residue peptide, and its COOH-terminal 45-residue peptide was the major storage form in the heart. Transgenic mice carrying the human serum amyloid P component/mouse BNP fusion gene were generated so that the hormone expression is targeted to the liver. In the liver of these mice, considerable levels of BNP mRNA and peptide were detected, reaching up to 10-fold greater than in the ventricle. These animals showed 10- to 100-fold increase in plasma BNP concentration accompanied by elevated plasma cyclic GMP concentration, and had significantly lower blood pressure than their nontransgenic littermates. The present study demonstrates that these mice provide a useful model system with which to assess the roles of BNP in cardiovascular regulation and suggests the potential usefulness of BNP as a long-term therapeutic agent.
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