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1.  Association of STAT4 Polymorphism with Severe Renal Insufficiency in Lupus Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84450.
Lupus nephritis is a cause of significant morbidity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and its genetic background has not been completely clarified. The aim of this investigation was to analyze single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with lupus nephritis, its severe form proliferative nephritis and renal outcome, in two Swedish cohorts. Cohort I (n = 567 SLE cases, n =  512 controls) was previously genotyped for 5676 SNPs and cohort II (n = 145 SLE cases, n = 619 controls) was genotyped for SNPs in STAT4, IRF5, TNIP1 and BLK.
Case-control and case-only association analyses for patients with lupus nephritis, proliferative nephritis and severe renal insufficiency were performed. In the case-control analysis of cohort I, four highly linked SNPs in STAT4 were associated with lupus nephritis with genome wide significance with p = 3.7×10−9, OR 2.20 for the best SNP rs11889341. Strong signals of association between IRF5 and an HLA-DR3 SNP marker were also detected in the lupus nephritis case versus healthy control analysis (p <0.0001). An additional six genes showed an association with lupus nephritis with p <0.001 (PMS2, TNIP1, CARD11, ITGAM, BLK and IRAK1). In the case-only meta-analysis of the two cohorts, the STAT4 SNP rs7582694 was associated with severe renal insufficiency with p  = 1.6×10−3 and OR 2.22. We conclude that genetic variations in STAT4 predispose to lupus nephritis and a worse outcome with severe renal insufficiency.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084450
PMCID: PMC3873995  PMID: 24386384
2.  Differential Genetic Associations for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Based on Anti–dsDNA Autoantibody Production 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1001323.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous, systemic autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody formation. Previously published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have investigated SLE as a single phenotype. Therefore, we conducted a GWAS to identify genetic factors associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production, a SLE–related autoantibody with diagnostic and clinical importance. Using two independent datasets, over 400,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were studied in a total of 1,717 SLE cases and 4,813 healthy controls. Anti–dsDNA autoantibody positive (anti–dsDNA +, n = 811) and anti–dsDNA autoantibody negative (anti–dsDNA –, n = 906) SLE cases were compared to healthy controls and to each other to identify SNPs associated specifically with these SLE subtypes. SNPs in the previously identified SLE susceptibility loci STAT4, IRF5, ITGAM, and the major histocompatibility complex were strongly associated with anti–dsDNA + SLE. Far fewer and weaker associations were observed for anti–dsDNA – SLE. For example, rs7574865 in STAT4 had an OR for anti–dsDNA + SLE of 1.77 (95% CI 1.57–1.99, p = 2.0E-20) compared to an OR for anti–dsDNA – SLE of 1.26 (95% CI 1.12–1.41, p = 2.4E-04), with pheterogeneity<0.0005. SNPs in the SLE susceptibility loci BANK1, KIAA1542, and UBE2L3 showed evidence of association with anti–dsDNA + SLE and were not associated with anti–dsDNA – SLE. In conclusion, we identified differential genetic associations with SLE based on anti–dsDNA autoantibody production. Many previously identified SLE susceptibility loci may confer disease risk through their role in autoantibody production and be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity loci. Lack of strong SNP associations may suggest that other types of genetic variation or non-genetic factors such as environmental exposures have a greater impact on susceptibility to anti–dsDNA – SLE.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can involve virtually any organ system. SLE patients produce antibodies that bind to their own cells and proteins (autoantibodies) which can cause irreversible organ damage. One particular SLE–related autoantibody directed at double-stranded DNA (anti–dsDNA) is associated with kidney involvement and more severe disease. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in SLE have studied SLE itself, not particular SLE manifestations. Therefore, we conducted this GWAS of anti–dsDNA autoantibody production to identify genetic associations with this clinically important autoantibody. We found that many previously identified SLE–associated genes are more strongly associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production than SLE itself, and they may be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity genes. No strong genetic associations were observed for SLE patients who do not produce anti–dsDNA autoantibodies, suggesting that other factors may have more influence in developing this type of SLE. Further investigation of these autoantibody propensity genes may lead to greater insight into the causes of autoantibody production and organ damage in SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001323
PMCID: PMC3048371  PMID: 21408207
3.  Mutations in genes encoding complement inhibitors CD46 and CFH affect the age at nephritis onset in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R206.
Introduction
Inherited deficiencies of several complement components strongly predispose to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) while deficiencies of complement inhibitors are found in kidney diseases such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
Methods
The exons of complement inhibitor genes CD46 and CFH (factor H) were fully sequenced using the Sanger method in SLE patients with nephritis originating from two cohorts from southern and mid Sweden (n = 196). All identified mutations and polymorphisms were then analyzed in SLE patients without nephritis (n = 326) and in healthy controls (n = 523).
Results
We found nonsynonymous, heterozygous mutations in CFH in 6.1% patients with nephritis, in comparison with 4.0% and 5.4% in patients without nephritis and controls, respectively. No associations of SLE or nephritis with common variants in CFH (V62I/Y402H/E936D) were found. Furthermore, we found two nonsynonymous heterozygous mutations in CD46 in SLE patients but not in controls. The A353V polymorphism, known to affect function of CD46, was found in 6.6% of nephritis patients versus 4.9% and 6.1% of the non-nephritis SLE patients and controls. The presence of mutations in CD46 and CFH did not predispose to SLE or nephritis but was associated with earlier onset of nephritis. Furthermore, we found weak indications that there is one protective and one risk haplotype predisposing to nephritis composed of several polymorphisms in noncoding regions of CD46, which were previously implicated in aHUS.
Conclusions
SLE nephritis is not associated with frequent mutations in CFH and CD46 as found in aHUS but these may be modifying factors causing earlier onset of nephritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3539
PMCID: PMC3334659  PMID: 22171659
4.  Specificity of the STAT4 Genetic Association for Severe Disease Manifestations of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(5):e1000084.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a genetically complex disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. A polymorphism in the STAT4 gene has recently been established as a risk factor for SLE, but the relationship with specific SLE subphenotypes has not been studied. We studied 137 SNPs in the STAT4 region genotyped in 4 independent SLE case series (total n = 1398) and 2560 healthy controls, along with clinical data for the cases. Using conditional testing, we confirmed the most significant STAT4 haplotype for SLE risk. We then studied a SNP marking this haplotype for association with specific SLE subphenotypes, including autoantibody production, nephritis, arthritis, mucocutaneous manifestations, and age at diagnosis. To prevent possible type-I errors from population stratification, we reanalyzed the data using a subset of subjects determined to be most homogeneous based on principal components analysis of genome-wide data. We confirmed that four SNPs in very high LD (r2 = 0.94 to 0.99) were most strongly associated with SLE, and there was no compelling evidence for additional SLE risk loci in the STAT4 region. SNP rs7574865 marking this haplotype had a minor allele frequency (MAF) = 31.1% in SLE cases compared with 22.5% in controls (OR = 1.56, p = 10−16). This SNP was more strongly associated with SLE characterized by double-stranded DNA autoantibodies (MAF = 35.1%, OR = 1.86, p<10−19), nephritis (MAF = 34.3%, OR = 1.80, p<10−11), and age at diagnosis<30 years (MAF = 33.8%, OR = 1.77, p<10−13). An association with severe nephritis was even more striking (MAF = 39.2%, OR = 2.35, p<10−4 in the homogeneous subset of subjects). In contrast, STAT4 was less strongly associated with oral ulcers, a manifestation associated with milder disease. We conclude that this common polymorphism of STAT4 contributes to the phenotypic heterogeneity of SLE, predisposing specifically to more severe disease.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease, most commonly striking women in their thirties or forties. It can cause a wide variety of clinical manifestations, including kidney disease, arthritis, and skin disorders. Prognosis varies greatly depending on these clinical features, with kidney disease and related characteristics leading to greater morbidity and mortality. It is also complex genetically; while lupus runs in families, genes increase one’s risk for lupus but do not fully determine the outcome. It is thought that the interactions of multiple genes and/or interactions between genes and environmental factors may cause lupus, but the causes and disease pathways of this very heterogeneous disease are not well understood. By examining relationships between subtypes of lupus and specific genes, we hope to better understand how lupus is triggered and by what biological pathways it progresses. We show in this work that the STAT4 gene, very recently identified as a lupus risk gene, predisposes specifically to severe manifestations of lupus, including kidney disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000084
PMCID: PMC2377340  PMID: 18516230
5.  Study of the role of functional variants of SLC22A4, RUNX1 and SUMO4 in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;65(6):791-795.
Background
Functional polymorphisms of the solute carrier family 22, member 4 (SLC22A4), runt related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) and small ubiquitin‐like modifier 4 (SUMO4) genes have been shown to be associated with several autoimmune diseases.
Objective
To test the possible role of these variants in susceptibility to or severity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), on the basis that common genetic bases are shared by autoimmune disorders.
Methods
597 SLE patients and 987 healthy controls of white Spanish origin were studied. Two additional cohorts of 228 SLE patients from Sweden and 122 SLE patients from Colombia were included. A case–control association study was carried out with six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) spanning the SLC22A4 gene, one SNP in RUNX1 gene, and one additional SNP in SUM04 gene.
Results
No significant differences were observed between SLE patients and healthy controls when comparing the distribution of the genotypes or alleles of any of the SLC22A4, RUNX1, or SUMO4 polymorphisms tested. Significant differences were found in the distribution of the SUMO4 genotypes and alleles among SLE patients with and without nephritis, but after multiple testing correction, the significance of the association was lost. The association of SUMO4 with nephritis could not be verified in two independent SLE cohorts from Sweden and Colombia.
Conclusions
These results suggest that the SLC22A4, RUNX1, and SUMO4 polymorphisms analysed do not play a role in the susceptibility to or severity of SLE.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.044891
PMCID: PMC1798171  PMID: 16249223
systemic lupus erythematosus; nephritis;  SLC22A4 gene;  RUNX1 gene;  SUMO4 gene
6.  Role of STAT4 polymorphisms in systemic lupus erythematosus in a Japanese population: a case-control association study of the STAT1-STAT4 region 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(5):R113.
Introduction
Recent studies identified STAT4 (signal transducers and activators of transcription-4) as a susceptibility gene for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). STAT1 is encoded adjacently to STAT4 on 2q32.2-q32.3, upregulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from SLE patients, and functionally relevant to SLE. This study was conducted to test whether STAT4 is associated with SLE in a Japanese population also, to identify the risk haplotype, and to examine the potential genetic contribution of STAT1. To accomplish these aims, we carried out a comprehensive association analysis of 52 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) encompassing the STAT1-STAT4 region.
Methods
In the first screening, 52 tag SNPs were selected based on HapMap Phase II JPT (Japanese in Tokyo, Japan) data, and case-control association analysis was carried out on 105 Japanese female patients with SLE and 102 female controls. For associated SNPs, additional cases and controls were genotyped and association was analyzed using 308 SLE patients and 306 controls. Estimation of haplotype frequencies and an association study using the permutation test were performed with Haploview version 4.0 software. Population attributable risk percentage was estimated to compare the epidemiological significance of the risk genotype among populations.
Results
In the first screening, rs7574865, rs11889341, and rs10168266 in STAT4 were most significantly associated (P < 0.01). Significant association was not observed for STAT1. Subsequent association studies of the three SNPs using 308 SLE patients and 306 controls confirmed a strong association of the rs7574865T allele (SLE patients: 46.3%, controls: 33.5%, P = 4.9 × 10-6, odds ratio 1.71) as well as TTT haplotype (rs10168266/rs11889341/rs7574865) (P = 1.5 × 10-6). The association was stronger in subgroups of SLE with nephritis and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies. Population attributable risk percentage was estimated to be higher in the Japanese population (40.2%) than in Americans of European descent (19.5%).
Conclusions
The same STAT4 risk allele is associated with SLE in Caucasian and Japanese populations. Evidence for a role of STAT1 in genetic susceptibility to SLE was not detected. The contribution of STAT4 for the genetic background of SLE may be greater in the Japanese population than in Americans of European descent.
doi:10.1186/ar2516
PMCID: PMC2592800  PMID: 18803832
7.  A candidate gene study of the type I interferon pathway implicates IKBKE and IL8 as risk loci for SLE 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.197
PMCID: PMC3060320  PMID: 21179067
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
8.  FCGR2B and FCRLB Gene Polymorphisms Associated with IgA Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61208.
Background
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is a complex syndrome characterized by deposition of IgA and IgA containing immune complexes (ICs) composed of IgG and complement C3 proteins in the mesangial area of glomeruli. The low-affinity receptors for the Fc region of IgG (FcγRs) are involved in autoantibody/immune complex-induced organ injury as well as ICs clearance. The aim of the study was to associate multiple polymorphisms within FCGR gene locus with IgAN in a large Chinese cohort.
Patients and Methods
60 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning a 400 kb range within FCGR gene locus were analyzed in 2100 DNA samples from patients with biopsy proven IgAN and healthy age- and sex-matched controls from the same population in Chinese.
Results
Among the 60 SNPs investigated, 15 gene polymorphisms within FCGR gene locus (25%) were associated with susceptibility to IgAN. The most significantly associated SNPs within individual genes were FCGR2B rs12118043 (p = 8.74*10−3, OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.62–0.93), and FCRLB rs4657093 (p = 2.28*10−3, OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.65–0.91). Both conditional analysis and linkage disequilibrium analysis suggested they were independent signals associated with IgAN. Associations between FCGR2B rs12118043 and proteinuria (p = 3.65×10−2) as well as gross hematuria (p = 4.53×10−2), between FCRLB rs4657093 and levels of serum creatinine (p = 2.67×10−2) as well as eGFR (p = 5.41*10−3) were also observed. Electronic cis-expression quantative trait loci analysis supported their possible functional significance, with protective genotypes correlating lower gene expressions.
Conclusion
Our data from genetic associations and expression associations revealed potentially pathogenic roles of Fc receptor gene polymorphisms in IgAN.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061208
PMCID: PMC3625155  PMID: 23593433
9.  Role of genetic polymorphisms in factor H and MBL genes in Tunisian patients with immunoglobulin A nephropathy 
The molecular mechanisms of IgA nephropathy (IgAN) remain poorly understood. Several different polymorphic genes have been investigated in order to demonstrate their possible association with this disease. It is evident that mainly alternative and lectin pathways complement activation and play an important role in renal injury of IgAN. This study was conducted to determine eventual deficiencies of factor H in the SCR20 gene region and to look for a possible association between the polymorphism (+54) exon 1 of the MBL gene and the predisposition in Tunisian patients with IgAN. We then evaluated the effects of these FH mutations and/or this MBL polymorphism on nephropathy susceptibility and progression. Polymorphism A/B (+54) in the exon1 of the MBL gene and analysis within the C-terminal domain of the protein SCR20 in the exon 22 of the factor H (FH) gene were conducted in 36 sporadic IgAN Tunisian patients and 117 age and gender matched healthy subjects recruited from blood donors, by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and direct sequencing respectively. The analysis of the Gly54Asp (+54) mutation of the MBL gene according to the criteria of gravity of the IgAN reveals that the patients with genotype AB present more frequently with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) compared with those of genotype AA [OR: 8, CI (1.74–54.49), P = 0.019]. Moreover, the variant allele B was statistically more frequent than the allele A in patients with an association with initial arterial high blood pressure, ESRD and class V of the Haas classification compared to those without this association (P = 0.009). The direct sequencing of exon 22 (SCR 20) of FH gene did not reveal any abnormal mutational deficiency for this factor in all patients and controls. The data did not support the hypothesis that FH is a susceptibility factor for the IgAN. However the data did show there was an association between AB (+54) exon1 MBL genotype and severe sporadic forms of this disease in Tunisian patients. Because of the small number of subjects studied, a much larger cohort of IgAN patients with varying severity of the disease and its progression would seem necessary to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3108773  PMID: 21694925
IgA nephropathy; genetics; factor H; MBL polymorphism; susceptibility
10.  Analysis of Gender Differences in Genetic Risk: Association of TNFAIP3 Polymorphism with Male Childhood-Onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in the Japanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72551.
Background
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic multisystem autoimmune disorder influenced by genetic background and environmental factors. Our aim here was to replicate findings of associations between 7 of the implicated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IRF5, BLK, STAT4, TNFAIP3, SPP1, TNIP1 and ETS1 genes with susceptibility to childhood-onset SLE in the Japanese population. In particular, we focused on gender differences in allelic frequencies.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The 7 SNPs were genotyped using TaqMan assays in 75 patients with childhood-onset SLE and in 190 healthy controls. The relationship between the cumulative number of risk alleles and SLE manifestations was explored in childhood-onset SLE. Logistic regression was used to test the effect of each polymorphism on susceptibility to SLE, and Wilcoxon rank sum testing was used for comparison of total risk alleles. Data on rs7574865 in the STAT4 gene and rs9138 in SPP1 were replicated for associations with SLE when comparing cases and controls (corrected P values ranging from 0.0043 to 0.027). The rs2230926 allele of TNFAIP3 was associated with susceptibility to SLE in males, but after Bonferroni correction there were no significant associations with any of the other four SNPs in IRF5, BLK, TNIP1 and ETS1 genes. The cumulative number of risk alleles was significantly increased in childhood-onset SLE relative to healthy controls (P = 0.0000041). Male SLE patients had a slightly but significantly higher frequency of the TNFAIP3 (rs2230926G) risk allele than female patients (odds ratio [OR] = 4.05, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] = 1.46–11.2 P<0.05).
Conclusions
Associations of polymorphisms in STAT4 and SPP1 with childhood-onset SLE were confirmed in a Japanese population. Although these are preliminary results for a limited number of cases, TNFAIP3 rs2230926G may be an important predictor of disease onset in males. We also replicated findings that the cumulative number of risk alleles was significantly increased in childhood-onset SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072551
PMCID: PMC3758304  PMID: 24023622
11.  Do the mutations of C1GALT1C1 gene play important roles in the genetic susceptibility to Chinese IgA nephropathy? 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:101.
Background
The deficiency of β1,3 galactose in hinge region of IgA1 molecule played a pivotal role in pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). Cosmc, encoded by C1GALT1C1 gene, was indispensable to β1,3 galactosylation of IgA1. We designed a serial study to investigate the relationship between the mutations of C1GALT1C1 gene and the genetic susceptibility to IgAN.
Methods
Nine hundred and thirty-eight subjects, including 661 patients with IgAN and 277 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Firstly, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the promoter region of C1GALT1C1 gene were screened. Then the c.-347-190G>A was analyzed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) for further case-control association analysis. Secondly the somatic mutations of DNAs from peripheral blood B lymphocytes were detected in 15 patients and 7 normal controls.
Results
No significant association was observed between the different alleles or genotypes of c.-347-190G>A and IgAN. The patients with different genotypes of C1GALT1C1 gene did not significantly associate with clinical manifestations, including hematuria, proteinuria, and serum creatinine of patients with IgAN. There was no somatic mutation detected in total 202 clones of 22 individuals.
Conclusion
The c.-347-190G>A polymorphism and the somatic mutation of encoding region of C1GALT1C1 gene were not significantly related to the genetic susceptibility to IgAN in Northern Chinese population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-101
PMCID: PMC2761879  PMID: 19778426
12.  The IgA nephropathy Biobank. An important starting point for the genetic dissection of a complex trait 
BMC Nephrology  2005;6:14.
Background
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) or Berger's disease, is the most common glomerulonephritis in the world diagnosed in renal biopsied patients. The involvement of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of the IgAN is evidenced by ethnic and geographic variations in prevalence, familial clustering in isolated populations, familial aggregation and by the identification of a genetic linkage to locus IGAN1 mapped on 6q22–23. This study seems to imply a single major locus, but the hypothesis of multiple interacting loci or genetic heterogeneity cannot be ruled out. The organization of a multi-centre Biobank for the collection of biological samples and clinical data from IgAN patients and relatives is an important starting point for the identification of the disease susceptibility genes.
Description
The IgAN Consortium organized a Biobank, recruiting IgAN patients and relatives following a common protocol. A website was constructed to allow scientific information to be shared between partners and to divulge obtained data (URL: ). The electronic database, the core of the website includes data concerning the subjects enrolled. A search page gives open access to the database and allows groups of patients to be selected according to their clinical characteristics. DNA samples of IgAN patients and relatives belonging to 72 multiplex extended pedigrees were collected. Moreover, 159 trios (sons/daughters affected and healthy parents), 1068 patients with biopsy-proven IgAN and 1040 healthy subjects were included in the IgAN Consortium Biobank. Some valuable and statistically productive genetic studies have been launched within the 5th Framework Programme 1998–2002 of the European project No. QLG1-2000-00464 and preliminary data have been published in "Technology Marketplace" website: .
Conclusion
The first world IgAN Biobank with a readily accessible database has been constituted. The knowledge gained from the study of Mendelian diseases has shown that the genetic dissection of a complex trait is more powerful when combined linkage-based, association-based, and sequence-based approaches are performed. This Biobank continuously expanded contains a sample size of adequately matched IgAN patients and healthy subjects, extended multiplex pedigrees, parent-child trios, thus permitting the combined genetic approaches with collaborative studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-6-14
PMCID: PMC1318455  PMID: 16329758
13.  Kallikrein genes are associated with lupus and glomerular basement membrane–specific antibody–induced nephritis in mice and humans 
Immune-mediated nephritis contributes to disease in systemic lupus erythematosus, Goodpasture syndrome (caused by antibodies specific for glomerular basement membrane [anti-GBM antibodies]), and spontaneous lupus nephritis. Inbred mouse strains differ in susceptibility to anti-GBM antibody–induced and spontaneous lupus nephritis. This study sought to clarify the genetic and molecular factors that may be responsible for enhanced immune-mediated renal disease in these models. When the kidneys of 3 mouse strains sensitive to anti-GBM antibody–induced nephritis were compared with those of 2 control strains using microarray analysis, one-fifth of the underexpressed genes belonged to the kallikrein gene family, which encodes serine esterases. Mouse strains that upregulated renal and urinary kallikreins exhibited less evidence of disease. Antagonizing the kallikrein pathway augmented disease, while agonists dampened the severity of anti-GBM antibody–induced nephritis. In addition, nephritis-sensitive mouse strains had kallikrein haplotypes that were distinct from those of control strains, including several regulatory polymorphisms, some of which were associated with functional consequences. Indeed, increased susceptibility to anti-GBM antibody–induced nephritis and spontaneous lupus nephritis was achieved by breeding mice with a genetic interval harboring the kallikrein genes onto a disease-resistant background. Finally, both human SLE and spontaneous lupus nephritis were found to be associated with kallikrein genes, particularly KLK1 and the KLK3 promoter, when DNA SNPs from independent cohorts of SLE patients and controls were compared. Collectively, these studies suggest that kallikreins are protective disease-associated genes in anti-GBM antibody–induced nephritis and lupus.
doi:10.1172/JCI36728
PMCID: PMC2662554  PMID: 19307730
14.  Further Evidence of Subphenotype Association with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Susceptibility Loci: A European Cases Only Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45356.
Introduction
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) shows a spectrum of clinical manifestations that complicate its diagnosis, treatment and research. This variability is likely related with environmental exposures and genetic factors among which known SLE susceptibility loci are prime candidates. The first published analyses seem to indicate that this is the case for some of them, but results are still inconclusive and we aimed to further explore this question.
Methods
European SLE patients, 1444, recruited at 17 centres from 10 countries were analyzed. Genotypes for 26 SLE associated SNPs were compared between patients with and without each of 11 clinical features: ten of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria (except ANAs) and age of disease onset. These analyses were adjusted for centre of recruitment, top ancestry informative markers, gender and time of follow-up. Overlap of samples with previous studies was excluded for assessing replication.
Results
There were three new associations: the SNPs in XKR6 and in FAM167A-BLK were associated with lupus nephritis (OR = 0.76 and 1.30, Pcorr = 0.007 and 0.03, respectively) and the SNP of MECP2, which is in chromosome X, with earlier age of disease onset in men. The previously reported association of STAT4 with early age of disease onset was replicated. Some other results were suggestive of the presence of additional associations. Together, the association signals provided support to some previous findings and to the characterization of lupus nephritis, autoantibodies and age of disease onset as the clinical features more associated with SLE loci.
Conclusion
Some of the SLE loci shape the disease phenotype in addition to increase susceptibility to SLE. This influence is more prominent for some clinical features than for others. However, results are only partially consistent between studies and subphenotype specific GWAS are needed to unravel their genetic component.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045356
PMCID: PMC3458859  PMID: 23049788
15.  Association of c-Jun Gene Polymorphism with Susceptibility to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in a Chinese Population 
DNA and Cell Biology  2012;31(7):1274-1278.
C-Jun has been proved as playing an important role in the pathogenesis of tumors, as a main component of Activator protein 1 and c-Jun gene polymorphisms are associated with colorectal cancer. However, the relationship between the c-Jun gene polymorphism and the susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has not been known. Our purpose is to evaluate whether the c-Jun gene polymorphism (SNP rs3748814) is associated with susceptibility to SLE in a Chinese population. In this study, we enrolled 502 SLE patients and 652 healthy controls. The c-Jun polymorphism (rs3748814) was specified from genomic DNA using the TaqMan genotyping assay on a 7300 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction system. We found that the frequency of the A/G genotype in SLE patients was lower than in healthy controls, whereas the frequency of the G/G genotype was significantly higher in SLE patients than in healthy controls (A/G vs. G/G p=8.670e-08, odds ratio [OR]=0.290, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.184–0.456). In addition, the frequency of allele A in the patients group was significantly lower than in the control group (A vs. G p=5.221e-09, OR=0.308, 95% CI=0.212–0.466). The distribution of genotype and allele frequency in SLE patients with lupus nephritis (LN) compared with SLE patients without LN was not statistically significant (A/G vs. G/G p=0.744, OR=1.157, 95% CI=0.481–2.785; A vs. G p=0.748, OR=1.152, 95% CI=0.486–2.734; A/A+A/G vs. G/G p=0.744, OR=1.157, 95% CI=0.481–2.785). Furthermore, we did not find any significant association between other clinical features and genotypes. Our findings suggest that the c-Jun polymorphism (rs3748814) may be significantly associated with the susceptibility to SLE in a Chinese population.
doi:10.1089/dna.2011.1536
PMCID: PMC3391490  PMID: 22489574
16.  A Panel of Serum Biomarkers Differentiates IgA Nephropathy from Other Renal Diseases 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98081.
Background and Objectives
There is increasing evidence that galactose-deficient IgA1 (Gd-IgA1) and Gd-IgA1-containing immune complexes are important for the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). In the present study, we assessed a novel noninvasive multi-biomarker approach in the diagnostic test for IgAN.
Materials and Methods
We compared serum levels of IgA, IgG, Gd-IgA1, Gd-IgA1-specific IgG and Gd-IgA1-specific IgA in 135 IgAN patients, 79 patients with non-IgAN chronic kidney disease (CKD) controls and 106 healthy controls. Serum was collected at the time of kidney biopsy from all IgAN and CKD patients.
Results
Each serum marker was significantly elevated in IgAN patients compared to CKD (P<0.001) and healthy controls (P<0.001). While 41% of IgAN patients had elevated serum Gd-IgA1 levels, 91% of these patients exhibited Gd-IgA1-specific IgG levels above the 90th percentile for healthy controls (sensitivity 89%, specificity 92%). Although up to 25% of CKD controls, particularly those with immune-mediated glomerular diseases including lupus nephritis, also had elevated serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG, most IgAN patients had elevated levels of Gd-IgA1-specific antibody of both isotypes. Serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG were associated with renal histological grading. Furthermore, there was a trend toward higher serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG in IgAN patients with at least moderate proteinuria (≥1.0 g/g), compared to patients with less proteinuria.
Conclusions
Serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific antibodies are elevated in most IgAN patients, and their assessment, together with serum levels of Gd-IgA1, improves the specificity of the assays. Our observations suggest that a panel of serum biomarkers may be helpful in differentiating IgAN from other glomerular diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098081
PMCID: PMC4032235  PMID: 24858067
17.  European Genetic Ancestry is Associated with a Decreased Risk of Lupus Nephritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):10.1002/art.34567.
Objective
African Americans, East Asians, and Hispanics with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to develop renal disease than SLE patients of European descent. We investigated whether European genetic ancestry protects against the development of lupus nephritis and explored genetic and socioeconomic factors that might explain this effect.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study of 1906 adults with SLE. Participants were genotyped for 126 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) informative for ancestry. A subset of participants was also genotyped for 80 SNPs in 14 candidate genes for renal disease in SLE. We used logistic regression to test the association between European ancestry and renal disease. Analyses adjusted for continental ancestries, socioeconomic status, and candidate genes.
Results
Participants (n=1906) had on average 62.4% European, 15.8% African, 11.5% East Asian, 6.5% Amerindian, and 3.8% South Asian ancestry. Among participants, 34% (n=656) had renal disease. A 10% increase in European ancestry was associated with a 15% reduction in the odds of having renal disease after adjustment for disease duration and sex (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.82-0.87, p=1.9 × 10−30). Adjusting for other genetic ancestries, measures of socioeconomic status, or SNPs in genes most associated with renal disease (IRF5 (rs4728142), BLK (rs2736340), STAT4 (rs3024912), ITGAM (rs9937837) and HLA-DRB1*0301 and DRB1*1501, p<0.05) did not substantively alter this relationship.
Conclusion
European ancestry is protective against the development of renal disease in SLE, an effect independent of other genetic ancestries, common risk alleles, and socioeconomic status.
doi:10.1002/art.34567
PMCID: PMC3865923  PMID: 23023776
18.  Geographic Differences in Genetic Susceptibility to IgA Nephropathy: GWAS Replication Study and Geospatial Risk Analysis 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(6):e1002765.
IgA nephropathy (IgAN), major cause of kidney failure worldwide, is common in Asians, moderately prevalent in Europeans, and rare in Africans. It is not known if these differences represent variation in genes, environment, or ascertainment. In a recent GWAS, we localized five IgAN susceptibility loci on Chr.6p21 (HLA-DQB1/DRB1, PSMB9/TAP1, and DPA1/DPB2 loci), Chr.1q32 (CFHR3/R1 locus), and Chr.22q12 (HORMAD2 locus). These IgAN loci are associated with risk of other immune-mediated disorders such as type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or inflammatory bowel disease. We tested association of these loci in eight new independent cohorts of Asian, European, and African-American ancestry (N = 4,789), followed by meta-analysis with risk-score modeling in 12 cohorts (N = 10,755) and geospatial analysis in 85 world populations. Four susceptibility loci robustly replicated and all five loci were genome-wide significant in the combined cohort (P = 5×10−32–3×10−10), with heterogeneity detected only at the PSMB9/TAP1 locus (I2 = 0.60). Conditional analyses identified two new independent risk alleles within the HLA-DQB1/DRB1 locus, defining multiple risk and protective haplotypes within this interval. We also detected a significant genetic interaction, whereby the odds ratio for the HORMAD2 protective allele was reversed in homozygotes for a CFHR3/R1 deletion (P = 2.5×10−4). A seven–SNP genetic risk score, which explained 4.7% of overall IgAN risk, increased sharply with Eastward and Northward distance from Africa (r = 0.30, P = 3×10−128). This model paralleled the known East–West gradient in disease risk. Moreover, the prediction of a South–North axis was confirmed by registry data showing that the prevalence of IgAN–attributable kidney failure is increased in Northern Europe, similar to multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes. Variation at IgAN susceptibility loci correlates with differences in disease prevalence among world populations. These findings inform genetic, biological, and epidemiological investigations of IgAN and permit cross-comparison with other complex traits that share genetic risk loci and geographic patterns with IgAN.
Author Summary
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is the most common cause of kidney failure in Asia, has lower prevalence in Europe, and is very infrequent among populations of African ancestry. A long-standing question in the field is whether these differences represent variation in genes, environment, or ascertainment. In a recent genome-wide association study of 5,966 individuals, we identified five susceptibility loci for this trait. In this paper, we study the largest IgAN case-control cohort reported to date, composed of 10,775 individuals of European, Asian, and African-American ancestry. We confirm that all five loci are significant contributors to disease risk across this multi-ethnic cohort. In addition, we identify two novel independent susceptibility alleles within the HLA-DQB1/DRB1 locus and a new genetic interaction between loci on Chr.1p36 and Chr.22q22. We develop a seven–SNP genetic risk score that explains nearly 5% of variation in disease risk. In geospatial analysis of 85 world populations, the genetic risk score closely parallels worldwide patterns of disease prevalence. The genetic risk score also predicts an unsuspected Northward risk gradient in Europe. This genetic prediction is verified by examination of registry data demonstrating, similarly to other immune-mediated diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes, a previously unrecognized increase in IgAN–attributable kidney failure in Northern European countries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002765
PMCID: PMC3380840  PMID: 22737082
19.  A Comprehensive Analysis of Shared Loci between Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Sixteen Autoimmune Diseases Reveals Limited Genetic Overlap 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002406.
In spite of the well-known clustering of multiple autoimmune disorders in families, analyses of specific shared genes and polymorphisms between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases (ADs) have been limited. Therefore, we comprehensively tested autoimmune variants for association with SLE, aiming to identify pleiotropic genetic associations between these diseases. We compiled a list of 446 non–Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of populations of European ancestry across 17 ADs. We then tested these variants in our combined Caucasian SLE cohorts of 1,500 cases and 5,706 controls. We tested a subset of these polymorphisms in an independent Caucasian replication cohort of 2,085 SLE cases and 2,854 controls, allowing the computation of a meta-analysis between all cohorts. We have uncovered novel shared SLE loci that passed multiple comparisons adjustment, including the VTCN1 (rs12046117, P = 2.02×10−06) region. We observed that the loci shared among the most ADs include IL23R, OLIG3/TNFAIP3, and IL2RA. Given the lack of a universal autoimmune risk locus outside of the MHC and variable specificities for different diseases, our data suggests partial pleiotropy among ADs. Hierarchical clustering of ADs suggested that the most genetically related ADs appear to be type 1 diabetes with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease with ulcerative colitis. These findings support a relatively distinct genetic susceptibility for SLE. For many of the shared GWAS autoimmune loci, we found no evidence for association with SLE, including IL23R. Also, several established SLE loci are apparently not associated with other ADs, including the ITGAM-ITGAX and TNFSF4 regions. This study represents the most comprehensive evaluation of shared autoimmune loci to date, supports a relatively distinct non–MHC genetic susceptibility for SLE, provides further evidence for previously and newly identified shared genes in SLE, and highlights the value of studies of potentially pleiotropic genes in autoimmune diseases.
Author Summary
It is well known that multiple autoimmune disorders cluster in families. However, all of the genetic variants that explain this clustering have not been discovered, and the specific genetic variants shared between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases (ADs) are not known. In order to better understand the genetic factors that explain this predisposition to autoimmunity, we performed a comprehensive evaluation of shared autoimmune genetic variants. First we considered results from 17 ADs and compiled a list with 446 significant genetic variants from these studies. We identified some genetic variants extensively shared between ADs, as well as the ADs that share the most variants. The genetic overlap between SLE and other ADs was modest. Next we tested how important all the 446 genetic variants were in our collection with a minimum of 1,500 SLE patients. Among the most significant variants in SLE, the majority had already been identified in previous studies, but we also discovered variants in two important immune genes. In summary, our data identified diseases with common genetic risk factors and novel SLE effects, and this supports a relatively distinct genetic susceptibility for SLE. This study helps delineate the genetic architecture of ADs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002406
PMCID: PMC3234215  PMID: 22174698
20.  Genetic variants and disease-associated factors contribute to enhanced IRF-5 expression in blood cells of systemic lupus erythematosus patients 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):562-573.
Objective
Genetic variants of the interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility. The contribution of these variants to IRF-5 expression in primary blood cells of SLE patients has not been addressed, nor has the role of type I IFN. The aim of this study was to determine the association between increased IRF-5 expression and the IRF5 risk haplotype in SLE patients.
Methods
IRF-5 transcript and protein levels in 44 Swedish patients with SLE and 16 healthy controls were measured by quantitative real-time PCR, minigene assay, and flow cytometry. The rs2004640, rs10954213, rs10488631 and the CGGGG indel were genotyped in these patients. Genotypes of these polymorphisms defined a common risk and protective haplotype.
Results
IRF-5 expression and alternative splicing were significantly upregulated in SLE patients versus healthy donors. Enhanced transcript and protein levels were associated with the risk haplotype of IRF5; rs10488631 gave the only significant independent association that correlated with increased transcription from non-coding exon 1C. Minigene experiments demonstrated an important role for rs2004640 and the CGGGG indel, along with type I IFNs in regulating IRF-5 expression.
Conclusions
This study provides the first formal proof that IRF-5 expression and alternative splicing are significantly upregulated in primary blood cells of SLE patients. The risk haplotype is associated with enhanced IRF-5 transcript and protein expression in SLE patients.
doi:10.1002/art.27223
PMCID: PMC3213692  PMID: 20112383
21.  A Study on Clinical and Pathologic Features in Lupus Nephritis with Mainly IgA Deposits and a Literature Review 
Objective. To study the clinical and pathologic features of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that has atypical lupus nephritis (LN) with mainly IgA deposits. Methods. We searched the SLE patients who had nephritis with mainly IgA deposits in our hospital and selected the information including clinical manifestations, laboratory tests, treatments, and prognosis. Results. From January 2009 to June 2012, 5 patients were definitely diagnosed as SLE according to both 1982 and 2009 ACR classification criteria. But renal biopsy showed that all cases had mainly IgA deposits and were free of IgG, C1q, and fibrinogen-related antigen deposits under immunofluorescent microscopy, which did not match with typical LN. There were 2 males and 3 females, aging from 31 to 64 years and with an average of (42.20 ± 13.59) years. The 5 cases had multiple-system involvements, mainly the renal system. Compared to primary IgAN, the atypical LN showed some differences: older than primary IgAN, more women than men, no previous infection history, lower incidence of serum IgA elevation, and ACL positive rate as high as 100%. Conclusion. Nephritis with mainly IgAN deposits, as an atypical LN, may be a special subtype of SLE.
doi:10.1155/2013/289316
PMCID: PMC3794566  PMID: 24174968
22.  Association analysis of PON2 genetic variants with serum paraoxonase activity and systemic lupus erythematosus 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:7.
Background
Low serum paraoxonase (PON) activity is associated with the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Our prior studies have shown that the PON1/rs662 (p.Gln192Arg), PON1/rs854560 (p.Leu55Met), PON3/rs17884563 and PON3/rs740264 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) significantly affect serum PON activity. Since PON1, PON2 and PON3 share high degree of structural and functional properties, in this study, we examined the role of PON2 genetic variation on serum PON activity, risk of SLE and SLE-related clinical manifestations in a Caucasian case-control sample.
Methods
PON2 SNPs were selected from HapMap and SeattleSNPs databases by including at least one tagSNP from each bin defined in these resources. A total of nineteen PON2 SNPs were successfully genotyped in 411 SLE cases and 511 healthy controls using pyrosequencing, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) or TaqMan allelic discrimination methods.
Results
Our pair-wise linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis, using an r2 cutoff of 0.7, identified 14 PON2 tagSNPs that captured all 19 PON2 variants in our sample, 12 of which were not in high LD with known PON1 and PON3 SNP modifiers of PON activity. Stepwise regression analysis of PON activity, including the known modifiers, identified five PON2 SNPs [rs6954345 (p.Ser311Cys), rs13306702, rs987539, rs11982486, and rs4729189; P = 0.005 to 2.1 × 10-6] that were significantly associated with PON activity. We found no association of PON2 SNPs with SLE risk but modest associations were observed with lupus nephritis (rs11981433, rs17876205, rs17876183) and immunologic disorder (rs11981433) in SLE patients (P = 0.013 to 0.042).
Conclusions
Our data indicate that PON2 genetic variants significantly affect variation in serum PON activity and have modest effects on risk of lupus nephritis and SLE-related immunologic disorder.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-7
PMCID: PMC3030528  PMID: 21223581
23.  The enabled homolog gene polymorphisms are associated with susceptibility and progression of childhood IgA nephropathy 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2009;41(11):793-801.
The enabled homolog gene (ENAH, hMena) is abundantly expressed in mesangial tissue, and might play an important role in inflammatory processes of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). The present study was conducted to investigate the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the ENAH and childhood IgAN. We analyzed 12 SNPs of ENAH in 176 patients with childhood IgAN and 397 healthy controls. In addition, IgAN patients were dichotomized and compared with respect to several clinical and pathological parameters. Genotyping data showed significant differences between IgAN patients and controls in the frequency of rs2039620, rs12034829, and rs3795443. On comparison of patients with proteinuria to those without proteinuria (≤ or > 4 mg/m2/h), rs12043633 was significantly different between the two groups. With regard to maximum proteinuria (≤ or > 4 mg/m2/h), rs3795443, rs4653643, rs6751, rs10799319, rs7555139, rs576861, and rs487591 showed significant allele frequency differences. For patients with and without gross hematuria, rs4653643, rs6751, rs10799319, rs7555139, rs576861, and rs487591 showed significant allele frequency differences. The rs3795443 was found to be associated with progression of pathological findings. Our results suggest that ENAH polymorphisms are associated with increased susceptibility, development of proteinuria and gross hematuria, and pathological progression of childhood IgAN.
doi:10.3858/emm.2009.41.11.085
PMCID: PMC2788733  PMID: 19641378
Enah protein, human; glomerulonephritis, IGA; polymorphism, single nucleotide
24.  Coding polymorphisms of bone morphogenetic protein 2 contribute to the development of childhood IgA nephropathy 
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are multi-functional growth factors belonging to the transforming growth factor β (TGFB) superfamily and are important in both preservation of kidney function and resistance to injury. BMP2 is highly regulated in the kidney, and high affinity binding sites for BMP2 have been identified in kidney epithelial cells. BMP2 has been demonstrated to play various roles in the pathogenesis of renal diseases. However, the role of the BMP2 gene in glomerulonephritis has not been previously investigated. We aimed to evaluate the association of BMP2 gene polymorphisms with immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) in children. We evaluated 187 pediatric patients with biopsy-confimed IgAN and 262 healthy controls. Two coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (cSNPs) in the BMP2 gene [rs235768 (missense, Arg190Ser) and rs1049007 (synonymous, Ser87Ser)] were selected and genotyped by direct sequencing. Genotypes of rs1049007 were associated with childhood IgAN in the codominant model II (GG vs. AA) [p=0.02; OR (95% CI), 0.16 (0.04–0.70)] and in the recessive model [p=0.0023; OR (95% CI), 0.16 (0.04–0.69)]. We also found an association between rs235768 and IgAN in the codominant model II (TT vs. AA) [p=0.01; OR (95% CI), 0.08 (0.01–0.57)] and in the recessive model [p=0.0002; OR (95% CI), 0.07 (0.01–0.55)]. After Bonferroni correction, these associations of rs235768 and rs1049007 with IgAN risk remained significant. In the haplotype analysis, the TG haplotype [p=0.01; OR (95% CI), 6.76 (1.55–29.50) in the dominant model] and AA haplotype [p=0.01; OR (95% CI), 0.08 (0.01–0.59) in the recessive model] showed associations with IgAN. The BMP2 gene may contribute to susceptibility to IgAN in Korean children.
doi:10.3892/etm.2011.195
PMCID: PMC3440631  PMID: 22977507
bone morphogenetic protein 2; polymorphism; immunoglobulin A nephropathy; children
25.  Genetic Variation at the IRF7/PHRF1 Locus Is Associated With Autoantibody Profile and Serum Interferon-α Activity in Lupus Patients 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):553-561.
Objective
Interferon-α (IFNα) is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Genetic variation near IRF7 is implicated in SLE susceptibility. SLE-associated autoantibodies can stimulate IFNα production through the Toll-like receptor/IRF7 pathway. This study was undertaken to determine whether variants of IRF7 act as risk factors for SLE by increasing IFNα production and whether autoantibodies are important to this phenomenon.
Methods
We studied 492 patients with SLE (236 African American, 162 European American, and 94 Hispanic American subjects). Serum levels of IFNα were measured using a reporter cell assay, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the IRF7/PHRF1 locus were genotyped.
Results
In a joint analysis of European American and Hispanic American subjects, the rs702966 C allele was associated with the presence of anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies (odds ratio [OR] 1.83, P = 0.0069). The rs702966 CC genotype was only associated with higher serum levels of IFNα in European American and Hispanic American patients with anti-dsDNA antibodies (joint analysis P = 4.1 × 10−5 in anti-dsDNA–positive patients and P = 0.99 in anti-dsDNA–negative patients). In African American subjects, anti-Sm antibodies were associated with the rs4963128 SNP near IRF7 (OR 1.95, P = 0.0017). The rs4963128 CT and TT genotypes were associated with higher serum levels of IFNα only in African American patients with anti-Sm antibodies (P = 0.0012). In African American patients lacking anti-Sm antibodies, an effect of anti-dsDNA–rs702966 C allele interaction on serum levels of IFNα was observed, similar to the other patient groups (overall joint analysis P = 1.0 × 10−6). In European American and Hispanic American patients, the IRF5 SLE risk haplotype showed an additive effect with the rs702966 C allele on IFNα level in anti-dsDNA–positive patients.
Conclusion
Our findings indicate that IRF7/PHRF1 variants in combination with SLE-associated autoantibodies result in higher serum levels of IFNα, providing a biologic relevance for this locus at the protein level in human SLE in vivo.
doi:10.1002/art.27182
PMCID: PMC2832192  PMID: 20112359

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