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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.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
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.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  IRF5 haplotypes demonstrate diverse serological associations which predict serum interferon alpha activity and explain the majority of the genetic association with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(3):463-468.
Objective
High serum interferon α (IFNα) activity is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Auto-antibodies found in SLE form immune complexes which can stimulate IFNα production by activating endosomal Toll-like receptors and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), including IRF5. Genetic variation in IRF5 is associated with SLE susceptibility; however, it is unclear how IRF5 functional genetic elements contribute to human disease.
Methods
1034 patients with SLE and 989 controls of European ancestry, 555 patients with SLE and 679 controls of African–American ancestry, and 73 patients with SLE of South African ancestry were genotyped at IRF5 polymorphisms, which define major haplotypes. Serum IFNα activity was measured using a functional assay.
Results
In European ancestry subjects, anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and anti-Ro antibodies were each associated with different haplotypes characterised by a different combination of functional genetic elements (OR > 2.56, p >003C; 1.9×10−14 for both). These IRF5 haplotype-auto-antibody associations strongly predicted higher serum IFNα in patients with SLE and explained > 70% of the genetic risk of SLE due to IRF5. In African–American patients with SLE a similar relationship between serology and IFNα was observed, although the previously described European ancestry-risk haplotype was present at admixture proportions in African–American subjects and absent in African patients with SLE.
Conclusions
The authors define a novel risk haplotype of IRF5 that is associated with anti-dsDNA antibodies and show that risk of SLE due to IRF5 genotype is largely dependent upon particular auto-antibodies. This suggests that auto-antibodies are directly pathogenic in human SLE, resulting in increased IFNα in cooperation with particular combinations of IRF5 functional genetic elements.
SLE is a systemic autoimmune disorder affecting multiple organ systems including the skin, musculoskeletal, renal and haematopoietic systems. Humoral autoimmunity is a hallmark of SLE, and patients frequently have circulating auto-antibodies directed against dsDNA, as well as RNA binding proteins (RBP). Anti-RBP autoantibodies include antibodies which recognize Ro, La, Smith (anti-Sm), and ribonucleoprotein (anti-nRNP), collectively referred to as anti-retinol-binding protein). Anti-retinol-binding protein and anti-dsDNA auto-antibodies are rare in the healthy population.1 These auto-antibodies can be present in sera for years preceding the onset of clinical SLE illness2 and are likely pathogenic in SLE.34
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200463
PMCID: PMC3307526  PMID: 22088620
18.  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
19.  High-Density SNP Screening of the Major Histocompatibility Complex in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Demonstrates Strong Evidence for Independent Susceptibility Regions 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(10):e1000696.
A substantial genetic contribution to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk is conferred by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene(s) on chromosome 6p21. Previous studies in SLE have lacked statistical power and genetic resolution to fully define MHC influences. We characterized 1,610 Caucasian SLE cases and 1,470 parents for 1,974 MHC SNPs, the highly polymorphic HLA-DRB1 locus, and a panel of ancestry informative markers. Single-marker analyses revealed strong signals for SNPs within several MHC regions, as well as with HLA-DRB1 (global p = 9.99×10−16). The most strongly associated DRB1 alleles were: *0301 (odds ratio, OR = 2.21, p = 2.53×10−12), *1401 (OR = 0.50, p = 0.0002), and *1501 (OR = 1.39, p = 0.0032). The MHC region SNP demonstrating the strongest evidence of association with SLE was rs3117103, with OR = 2.44 and p = 2.80×10−13. Conditional haplotype and stepwise logistic regression analyses identified strong evidence for association between SLE and the extended class I, class I, class III, class II, and the extended class II MHC regions. Sequential removal of SLE–associated DRB1 haplotypes revealed independent effects due to variation within OR2H2 (extended class I, rs362521, p = 0.006), CREBL1 (class III, rs8283, p = 0.01), and DQB2 (class II, rs7769979, p = 0.003, and rs10947345, p = 0.0004). Further, conditional haplotype analyses demonstrated that variation within MICB (class I, rs3828903, p = 0.006) also contributes to SLE risk independent of HLA-DRB1*0301. Our results for the first time delineate with high resolution several MHC regions with independent contributions to SLE risk. We provide a list of candidate variants based on biologic and functional considerations that may be causally related to SLE risk and warrant further investigation.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and involvement of multiple organ systems. Although the cause of SLE remains unknown, several lines of evidence underscore the importance of genetic factors. As is true for most autoimmune diseases, a substantial genetic contribution to disease risk is conferred by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene(s) on chromosome 6. This region of the genome contains a large number of genes that participate in the immune response. However, the full contribution of this genomic region to SLE risk has not yet been defined. In the current study we characterize a large number of SLE patients and family members for approximately 2,000 MHC region variants to identify the specific genes that influence disease risk. Our results, for the first time, implicate four different MHC regions in SLE risk. We provide a list of candidate variants based on biologic and functional considerations that may be causally related to SLE risk and warrant further investigation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000696
PMCID: PMC2758598  PMID: 19851445
20.  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
21.  Selective Involvement of the Amygdala in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e499.
Background
Antibodies specifically affect the amygdala in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The aim of our study was to investigate whether there is also specific involvement of the amygdala in human SLE.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed a group of 37 patients with neuropsychiatric SLE (NP-SLE), 21 patients with SLE, and a group of 12 healthy control participants with diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). In addition, in a subset of eight patients, plasma was available to determine their anti-NMDAR antibody status. From the structural magnetic resonance imaging data, the amygdala and the hippocampus were segmented, as well as the white and gray matter, and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was retrieved. ADC values between controls, patients with SLE, and patients with NP-SLE were tested using analysis of variance with post-hoc Bonferroni correction. No differences were found in the gray or white matter segments. The average ADC in the amygdala of patients with NP-SLE and SLE (940 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.006 and 949 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.019, respectively) was lower than in healthy control participants (1152 × 10−6 mm2/s). Mann-Whitney analysis revealed that the average ADC in the amygdala of patients with anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 802 × 10−6 mm2/s) was lower (p = 0.029) than the average ADC of patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 979 × 10−6 mm2/s) and also lower (p = 0.001) than in healthy control participants.
Conclusions
This is the first study to our knowledge to observe damage in the amygdala in patients with SLE. Patients with SLE with anti-NMDAR antibodies had more severe damage in the amygdala compared to SLE patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies.
Patients with SLE who also had antibodies against the NMDA receptor had more severe damage in the amygdala as compared with patients with SLE without these antibodies.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The human body is continually attacked by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of proteins that are unique to the pathogen) but ignore self-antigens. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and nonself fails for unknown reasons, and the immune system begins to destroy human tissues. In the chronic autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), the immune system attacks the skin, joints, nervous system, and many other organs. Patients with SLE make numerous “autoantibodies” (antibodies are molecules made by the immune system that recognize and attack antigens; autoantibodies attack self-antigens). These autoantibodies start the attack on the body; then other parts of the immune system join in, causing inflammation and forming deposits of immune cells, both of which damage tissues. Common symptoms of SLE include skin rashes and arthritis, but some patients develop NP-SLE, a form of SLE that includes neuropsychiatric symptoms such as amnesia, dementia, mood disorders, strokes, and seizures. There is no cure for SLE, but mild cases are controlled with ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; severe cases are kept in check with corticosteroids and other powerful immunosuppressants.
Why Was This Study Done?
In most of the tissues affected by SLE, the damage done by autoantibodies and immune cells can be seen when the tissues are examined with a microscope. But there is little microscopic damage visible in the brains of patients with NP-SLE. More generally, it is unclear how or even whether the immune system affects mental functions and emotion. In this study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate whether there are any structural changes in the brains of patients with NP-SLE that could explain their neuropsychiatric symptoms. They have also examined whether any changes in the brain can be linked to the presence of autoantibodies that recognize a protein called the NMDA receptor (anti-NMDAR antibodies) that is present on brain cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used an MRI technique called diffusion weighted imaging to examine the brains of several patients with NP-SLE or SLE and the brains of several healthy individuals. Using this technique, it is possible to quantify the amount of structural damage in different regions of the brain. The researchers found no differences in most areas of the brain between the two groups of patients and the healthy controls. However, there were clear signs of damage in the amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotions and triggers responses to danger) in the patients with SLE or NP-SLE when compared to the control individuals. The researchers also found that the damage was more severe in the patients who had anti-NMDAR autoantibodies than in those that did not have these autoantibodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that autoantibodies produced by patients with SLE specifically damage the amygdala, a discovery that helps to explain some of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of this condition. Previous work has shown that the treatment of mice with anti-NMDAR antibodies and epinephrine, a stress hormone that causes leaks in the blood-brain barrier (antibodies can't usually get into the brain because of this barrier), results in damage to the amygdala and a deficient response to dangerous stimuli. The researchers suggest that a similar series of events might happen in SLE—patients often mention that a period of major stress precedes the development of symptoms. To provide stronger evidence for such a scenario, a detailed study of how stress relates to neuropsychiatric symptoms is needed. The damage to the amygdala (and the lack of damage elsewhere in the brain) and the possible association between brain damage and anti-NMDAR antibodies seen in this small study also need to be confirmed in more patients. Nevertheless, these findings provide an intriguing glimpse into the interplay between the immune system and the brain and into how stress might lead to physical damage in the brain.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030499.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia pages on autoimmunity and on systemic lupus erythematosus
US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases booklet for patients with SLE
American College of Rheumatology information for patients on SLE
NHS Direct Online Health Encyclopedia pages on SLE
The Lupus Foundation of America information and support for patients with SLE
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030499
PMCID: PMC1702559  PMID: 17177602
22.  The genetic variants at the HLA-DRB1 gene are associated with primary IgA nephropathy in Han Chinese 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:33.
Background
Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN), an immune-complex-mediated glomerulonephritis defined immunohistologically by the presence of glomerular IgA deposits, is the most common primary glomerular disease worldwide and a significant cause of end-stage renal disease. Familial clustering of patients with IgAN suggests a genetic predisposition.
Methods
In this study, 192 patients with IgAN and 192 normal controls in the Sichuan cohort and 935 patients with IgAN and 2,103 normal controls in the Beijing cohort were investigated. HLA-DRB1*01–DRB1*10 specificities were genotyped by the PCR–SSP technique in both cohorts. Based on the HLA-DRB1*04-positive results, the subtypes of HLA-DRB1*04 were analyzed using sequencing-based typing (SBT) in 291 IgAN cases and 420 matched controls.
Results
The frequency of HLA-DRB1*04 in the IgAN group was significantly higher than that in the control group (0.129 vs. 0.092, P = 8.29 × 10-5, odds ratio (OR) =1.381, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.178–1.619). Other alleles at the HLA-DRB1 locus were observed with no significant differences between the case and control groups. The dominant alleles of the HLA-DRB1*04 subtypes were DRB1*0405 in both cohorts. The frequencies of HLA-DRB1*0405 and 0403 were significantly increased in the patients compared to healthy subjects.
Conclusion
HLA-DRB1*04 was significantly associated with primary IgAN in Chinese population. This result implies that HLA-DRB1 gene plays a major role in primary IgAN.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-33
PMCID: PMC3407495  PMID: 22578019
IgA nephropathy; HLA-DRB1; Association study
23.  RNA-Seq for Enrichment and Analysis of IRF5 Transcript Expression in SLE 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54487.
Polymorphisms in the interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene have been consistently replicated and shown to confer risk for or protection from the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). IRF5 expression is significantly upregulated in SLE patients and upregulation associates with IRF5-SLE risk haplotypes. IRF5 alternative splicing has also been shown to be elevated in SLE patients. Given that human IRF5 exists as multiple alternatively spliced transcripts with distinct function(s), it is important to determine whether the IRF5 transcript profile expressed in healthy donor immune cells is different from that expressed in SLE patients. Moreover, it is not currently known whether an IRF5-SLE risk haplotype defines the profile of IRF5 transcripts expressed. Using standard molecular cloning techniques, we identified and isolated 14 new differentially spliced IRF5 transcript variants from purified monocytes of healthy donors and SLE patients to generate an IRF5 variant transcriptome. Next-generation sequencing was then used to perform in-depth and quantitative analysis of full-length IRF5 transcript expression in primary immune cells of SLE patients and healthy donors by next-generation sequencing. Evidence for additional alternatively spliced transcripts was obtained from de novo junction discovery. Data from these studies support the overall complexity of IRF5 alternative splicing in SLE. Results from next-generation sequencing correlated with cloning and gave similar abundance rankings in SLE patients thus supporting the use of this new technology for in-depth single gene transcript profiling. Results from this study provide the first proof that 1) SLE patients express an IRF5 transcript signature that is distinct from healthy donors, 2) an IRF5-SLE risk haplotype defines the top four most abundant IRF5 transcripts expressed in SLE patients, and 3) an IRF5 transcript signature enables clustering of SLE patients with the H2 risk haplotype.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054487
PMCID: PMC3548774  PMID: 23349905
24.  Association between -1486 T>C and +1174 G>A single nucleotide polymorphisms in TLR9 gene and severity of lupus nephritis 
Indian Journal of Nephrology  2012;22(2):125-129.
Signaling through Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9), a mediator of innate immune responses, could have a role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Some studies have shown an association between polymorphisms in the TLR9 gene and disease manifestations. We investigated whether two single nucleotide polymorphisms (-1486 T>C and +1174 G>A) in the TLR9 gene are associated with the risk of renal involvement in SLE. DNA samples from 112 SLE patients (62 with lupus nephritis) and 100 healthy controls were obtained. TLR9 polymorphisms (-1486 T>C and +1174 G>A) were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism. Genotype and allelic frequencies were compared between lupus patients and healthy controls. Clinical and laboratory manifestations and activity scores on renal biopsy of patients with lupus nephritis were compared between various genotypes. There was no difference in the frequency of genotype or allele distribution at either of the two loci between lupus patients and controls and in lupus patients with or without nephritis. Patients with CC/CT genotype at the -1486 position had higher serum creatinine (P = 0.03) and Austin activity scores (P = 0.015). Patients with AA/AG genotype at +1174 position showed higher serum creatinine (P = 0.04), proteinuria (P = 0.011), anti-dsDNA titers (P < 0.001) and Austin activity scores (P = 0.003) than the GG genotype. Variations at the -1486 and +1174 positions of TLR9 gene are not associated with increased risk of SLE or that of kidney involvement in North Indians. CC/CT genotypes at -1486 and AA/AG at +1174 positions are associated with more severe kidney disease at presentation.
doi:10.4103/0971-4065.97133
PMCID: PMC3391810  PMID: 22787315
Genetics; lupus nephritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; toll-like receptor
25.  Elevated Serum Levels of Interferon-Regulated Chemokines Are Biomarkers for Active Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e491.
Background
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a serious systemic autoimmune disorder that affects multiple organ systems and is characterized by unpredictable flares of disease. Recent evidence indicates a role for type I interferon (IFN) in SLE pathogenesis; however, the downstream effects of IFN pathway activation are not well understood. Here we test the hypothesis that type I IFN-regulated proteins are present in the serum of SLE patients and correlate with disease activity.
Methods and Findings
We performed a comprehensive survey of the serologic proteome in human SLE and identified dysregulated levels of 30 cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, and soluble receptors. Particularly striking was the highly coordinated up-regulation of 12 inflammatory and/or homeostatic chemokines, molecules that direct the movement of leukocytes in the body. Most of the identified chemokines were inducible by type I IFN, and their levels correlated strongly with clinical and laboratory measures of disease activity.
Conclusions
These data suggest that severely disrupted chemokine gradients may contribute to the systemic autoimmunity observed in human SLE. Furthermore, the levels of serum chemokines may serve as convenient biomarkers for disease activity in lupus.
A comprehensive survey of the serologic proteome in human SLE suggests that severely disrupted chemokine gradients may contribute to the systemic autoimmunity observed.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The term “lupus,” meaning wolf in Latin, is often used as an abbreviation for the disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The name may have been given because some people with SLE have a rash that slightly resembles a wolf's face. The condition affects around 50 to 100 people per 100,000, and is much more common in women than men. SLE is a complicated disease that comes about when antibodies inappropriately attack the body's own connective tissues, although it is not known why this happens. Symptoms vary between different people; the disease may get better and then worse, without explanation; and can affect many different organs including the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, and brain and nervous system. SLE is difficult for doctors to diagnose. Although the disease cannot be cured, patients who are diagnosed with SLE can be treated for their symptoms, and the right management can slow progress of the disease. One area of SLE research focuses on finding “molecular markers” (e.g., proteins or other compounds) that could be tested for in the blood. Researchers hope this would help doctors to more accurately diagnose SLE initially, and then also help to track progress in a patient's condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
“Gene expression” is a term meaning the process by which a gene's DNA sequence is converted into the structures and functions of a cell. These investigators had found in previous studies that certain genes were more “highly expressed” in the blood cells of patients with SLE. Some of these genes were already known to be regulated by interferons (a group of proteins, produced by certain blood cells, that are important in helping to defend against viral infections). The investigators performing this study wanted to understand more clearly the role of interferon in SLE and to see whether the genes that are more highly expressed in patients with SLE go on to produce higher levels of protein, which might then provide useful markers for monitoring the condition.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This research project was a “case-control” study, in which the researchers compared the levels of certain proteins in the blood of people who had SLE with the levels in people who did not have the condition. Thirty people were recruited as cases, from a group of patients with SLE who have been under evaluation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since 1987. Fifteen controls were recruited from a group of healthy people of similar age and sex as the patients with SLE; everyone involved in the study gave their consent to take part. Blood samples were taken from each individual, and the serum (liquid component of blood) was separated out. The serum levels of 160 different blood proteins were then measured. When comparing levels of blood proteins between the groups, the researchers found that 30 specific proteins were present at higher or lower levels in the SLE-affected patients. Many of these proteins are cytokines, which are regulated by interferons and are involved in the process of “signaling” within the immune system. A few proteins were found at lower levels. Levels of the interferon-regulated proteins were, on average, seen at higher levels in people whose condition was more severe.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that patients with SLE are likely to have a very different pattern of regulation of certain proteins within the blood, particularly the proteins involved in signaling within the immune system. The authors propose that these proteins may be involved in the progression of the disease. There is also the possibility that some of these proteins may prove useful in diagnostic tests, or in tests for monitoring how the disease progresses. However, before any such tests could be used in clinical practice, they would need to be further developed and then thoroughly tested in clinical trials.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030491
Patient information from the UK National Health Service on systemic lupus erythematosus
Patient handout from the US National Institutes of Health
MedlinePLUS encyclopedia entry on lupus
Information on lupus from the UK Arthritis Research Campaign
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030491
PMCID: PMC1702557  PMID: 17177599

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