3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A [HMG-CoA] reductase gene (Hmgcr) is a susceptibility gene for essential hypertension. Sequencing of the Hmgcr locus in genetically hypertensive BPH (blood pressure high), genetically hypotensive BPL (blood pressure low) and genetically normotensive BPN (blood pressure normal) mice yielded a number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). BPH/BPL/BPN Hmgcr promoter-luciferase reporter constructs were generated and transfected into liver HepG2, ovarian CHO, kidney HEK-293 and neuronal N2A cells for functional characterization of the promoter SNPs. The BPH-Hmgcr promoter showed significantly less activity than the BPL-Hmgcr promoter under basal as well as nicotine/cholesterol-treated conditions. This finding was consistent with lower endogenous Hmgcr expression in liver and lower plasma cholesterol in BPH mice. Transfection experiments using 5′-promoter deletion constructs (strategically made to assess the functional significance of each promoter SNP) and computational analysis predicted lower binding affinities of transcription factors c-Fos, n-Myc and Max with the BPH-promoter as compared to the BPL-promoter. Corroboratively, the BPH promoter-luciferase reporter construct co-transfected with expression plasmids of these transcription factors displayed less pronounced augmentation of luciferase activity than the BPL construct, particularly at lower amounts of transcription factor plasmids. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays also showed diminished interactions of the BPH promoter with HepG2 nuclear proteins. Taken together, this study provides mechanistic basis for the differential Hmgcr expression in these mouse models of human essential hypertension and have implications for better understanding the role of this gene in regulation of blood pressure. © 2011 Sonawane et al.