Hypertension is an important risk factor for death from stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure and affects about one-quarter of all adults word wide. In August 10 Science, Richard Lifton and colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine in America, have identified two genes that cause pseudohypoaldosteronism type II (PHAII). This disorder causes hypertension via increased reabsorption of salt by the kidneys, and impaired secretion of potassium and hydrogen ions. (Science 2001, 293:1107-1112).

Wilsonet al. began to unravel the genetics of this new pathway by identifying two types of families affected with hypertension. Each carried a specific genetic mutation, one on chromosome 12, and the other on chromosome 17. The breakthrough came when it was noticed that a genetic marker present in the normal chromosome 12 was absent in the mutated disease gene. Genomic analysis showed that the deletion was...

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