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1.  Two Genes on A/J Chromosome 18 Are Associated with Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Infection by Combined Microarray and QTL Analyses 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001088.
Although it has recently been shown that A/J mice are highly susceptible to Staphylococcus aureus sepsis as compared to C57BL/6J, the specific genes responsible for this differential phenotype are unknown. Using chromosome substitution strains (CSS), we found that loci on chromosomes 8, 11, and 18 influence susceptibility to S. aureus sepsis in A/J mice. We then used two candidate gene selection strategies to identify genes on these three chromosomes associated with S. aureus susceptibility, and targeted genes identified by both gene selection strategies. First, we used whole genome transcription profiling to identify 191 (56 on chr. 8, 100 on chr. 11, and 35 on chr. 18) genes on our three chromosomes of interest that are differentially expressed between S. aureus-infected A/J and C57BL/6J. Second, we identified two significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) for survival post-infection on chr. 18 using N2 backcross mice (F1 [C18A]×C57BL/6J). Ten genes on chr. 18 (March3, Cep120, Chmp1b, Dcp2, Dtwd2, Isoc1, Lman1, Spire1, Tnfaip8, and Seh1l) mapped to the two significant QTL regions and were also identified by the expression array selection strategy. Using real-time PCR, 6 of these 10 genes (Chmp1b, Dtwd2, Isoc1, Lman1, Tnfaip8, and Seh1l) showed significantly different expression levels between S. aureus-infected A/J and C57BL/6J. For two (Tnfaip8 and Seh1l) of these 6 genes, siRNA-mediated knockdown of gene expression in S. aureus–challenged RAW264.7 macrophages induced significant changes in the cytokine response (IL-1 β and GM-CSF) compared to negative controls. These cytokine response changes were consistent with those seen in S. aureus-challenged peritoneal macrophages from CSS 18 mice (which contain A/J chromosome 18 but are otherwise C57BL/6J), but not C57BL/6J mice. These findings suggest that two genes, Tnfaip8 and Seh1l, may contribute to susceptibility to S. aureus in A/J mice, and represent promising candidates for human genetic susceptibility studies.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus has a wide spectrum of human infection, ranging from asymptomatic nasal carriage to overwhelming sepsis and death. Mouse models offer an attractive strategy for investigating complex diseases such as S. aureus infections. A/J mice are highly susceptible to S. aureus infection compared with C57BL/6J mice. We showed that genes on chromosomes 8, 11, and 18 in A/J are responsible for susceptibility to S. aureus by using chromosome substitution strains (CSS). From the ∼4200 genes on these three chromosomes, we identified 191 which were differentially expressed between A/J and C57BL/6J when challenged with S. aureus. Next, we identified two significant QTLs on chromosome 18 that are associated with susceptibility to S. aureus infection in N2 backcross mice. Ten genes (March3, Cep120, Chmp1b, Dcp2, Dtwd2, Isoc1, Lman1, Spire1, Tnfaip8, and Seh1l) mapped to the two significant QTLs and were differentially expressed between A/J and C57BL/6J. One gene on each QTL, Tnfaip8 and Seh1l, affected expression of cytokines in mouse macrophages exposed to S. aureus. These cytokine response patterns were consistent with those seen in S. aureus-challenged peritoneal macrophages from CSS 18, but not C57BL/6J. Tnfaip8 and Seh1l are strong candidates for genes influencing susceptibility to S. aureus of A/J mice.
PMCID: PMC2932726  PMID: 20824097
2.  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.
PMCID: PMC2662554  PMID: 19307730
3.  Blood biomarker levels to aid discovery of cancer-related single nucleotide polymorphisms: kallikreins and prostate cancer 
Polymorphisms associated with prostate cancer include those in three genes encoding major secretory products of the prostate: KLK2 (encoding kallikrein-related peptidase 2; hK2), KLK3 (encoding prostate-specific antigen; PSA), and MSMB (encoding beta-microseminoprotein). PSA and hK2, members of the kallikrein family, are elevated in serum of men with prostate cancer. In a comprehensive analysis which included sequencing of all coding, flanking, and 2kb of putative promoter regions of all 15 kallikrein (KLK) genes spanning ≈280 Kb on chromosome 19q, we identified novel SNPs and genotyped 104 SNPs in 1419 cancer cases and 736 controls in CAPS1, with independent replication in 1267 cases and 901 controls in CAPS2. This verified prior associations of SNPs in KLK2 and in MSMB (but not in KLK3) with prostate cancer. Twelve SNPs in KLK2 and KLK3 were associated with levels of PSA forms or hK2 in plasma of control subjects. Based on our comprehensive approach, this is likely to represent all common KLK variants associated with these phenotypes. A T allele at rs198977 in KLK2 associated with increased cancer risk and a striking decrease of hK2 levels in blood. We also found a strong interaction between rs198977 genotype and hK2 levels in blood in predicting cancer risk. Based on this strong association, we developed a model for predicting prostate cancer risk from standard biomarkers, rs198977 genotype, and rs198977 x hK2 interaction; this model had greater accuracy than did biomarkers alone (AUC 0.874 vs 0.866), providing proof in principle to clinical application for our findings.
PMCID: PMC2865570  PMID: 20424135
prostate cancer; prostate-specific antigen; human kallikrein-related peptidase 2; genetic variation; case-control study
4.  Haplotype Association Mapping of Acute Lung Injury in Mice Implicates Activin A Receptor, Type 1 
Rationale: Because acute lung injury is a sporadic disease produced by heterogeneous precipitating factors, previous genetic analyses are mainly limited to candidate gene case-control studies.
Objectives: To develop a genome-wide strategy in which single nucleotide polymorphism associations are assessed for functional consequences to survival during acute lung injury in mice.
Methods: To identify genes associated with acute lung injury, 40 inbred strains were exposed to acrolein and haplotype association mapping, microarray, and DNA-protein binding were assessed.
Measurements and Main Results: The mean survival time varied among mouse strains with polar strains differing approximately 2.5-fold. Associations were identified on chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 11, and 12. Seven genes (Acvr1, Cacnb4, Ccdc148, Galnt13, Rfwd2, Rpap2, and Tgfbr3) had single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations within the gene. Because SNP associations may encompass “blocks” of associated variants, functional assessment was performed in 91 genes within ± 1 Mbp of each SNP association. Using 10% or greater allelic frequency and 10% or greater phenotype explained as threshold criteria, 16 genes were assessed by microarray and reverse real-time polymerase chain reaction. Microarray revealed several enriched pathways including transforming growth factor-β signaling. Transcripts for Acvr1, Arhgap15, Cacybp, Rfwd2, and Tgfbr3 differed between the strains with exposure and contained SNPs that could eliminate putative transcriptional factor recognition sites. Ccdc148, Fancl, and Tnn had sequence differences that could produce an amino acid substitution. Mycn and Mgat4a had a promoter SNP or 3′untranslated region SNPs, respectively. Several genes were related and encoded receptors (ACVR1, TGFBR3), transcription factors (MYCN, possibly CCDC148), and ubiquitin-proteasome (RFWD2, FANCL, CACYBP) proteins that can modulate cell signaling. An Acvr1 SNP eliminated a putative ELK1 binding site and diminished DNA–protein binding.
Conclusions: Assessment of genetic associations can be strengthened using a genetic/genomic approach. This approach identified several candidate genes, including Acvr1, associated with increased susceptibility to acute lung injury in mice.
PMCID: PMC3137140  PMID: 21297076
acute respiratory distress syndrome; smoke inhalation; carboxyl stress; transforming growth factor-&beta signaling; ubiquitination
5.  Dusp3 and Psme3 Are Associated with Murine Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Infection and Human Sepsis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004149.
Using A/J mice, which are susceptible to Staphylococcus aureus, we sought to identify genetic determinants of susceptibility to S. aureus, and evaluate their function with regard to S. aureus infection. One QTL region on chromosome 11 containing 422 genes was found to be significantly associated with susceptibility to S. aureus infection. Of these 422 genes, whole genome transcription profiling identified five genes (Dcaf7, Dusp3, Fam134c, Psme3, and Slc4a1) that were significantly differentially expressed in a) S. aureus –infected susceptible (A/J) vs. resistant (C57BL/6J) mice and b) humans with S. aureus blood stream infection vs. healthy subjects. Three of these genes (Dcaf7, Dusp3, and Psme3) were down-regulated in susceptible vs. resistant mice at both pre- and post-infection time points by qPCR. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Dusp3 and Psme3 induced significant increases of cytokine production in S. aureus-challenged RAW264.7 macrophages and bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) through enhancing NF-κB signaling activity. Similar increases in cytokine production and NF-κB activity were also seen in BMDMs from CSS11 (C57BL/6J background with chromosome 11 from A/J), but not C57BL/6J. These findings suggest that Dusp3 and Psme3 contribute to S. aureus infection susceptibility in A/J mice and play a role in human S. aureus infection.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus causes life-threatening infections in humans. Host genetic determinants influence the outcome of S. aureus infection, yet are poorly understood. Susceptible A/J and resistant C57BL/6J mice provide a unique platform to study the genetic difference responsible for variable host response to S. aureus infection. We showed that chromosome 11 in A/J was responsible for susceptibility to S. aureus. We further identified a QTL locus on Chromosome 11 significantly associated with S. aureus susceptibility. Five genes in the QTL (Dcaf7, Dusp3, Fam134c, Psme3, and Slc4a1) were significantly differently expressed in a) susceptible vs. resistant mice, and b) humans with S. aureus blood stream infection vs. healthy human subjects. Three genes (Dusp3, Psme3, and Dcaf7) were down-regulated in susceptible A/J mice. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Dusp3 and Psme3 in bone marrow derived macrophage (BMDMs) significantly enhanced cytokine responses through NF-κB activity upon S. aureus challenge in a pattern that was also present in S. aureus-challenged BMDMs from susceptible CSS11 (chr. 11 from A/J but otherwise C57BL/6J) mice, but not resistant C57BL/6J mice. These findings suggest that Dusp3 and Psme3 contribute to S. aureus infection susceptibility in A/J mice and play a role in human S. aureus infection.
PMCID: PMC4047107  PMID: 24901344
6.  Plasminogen Alleles Influence Susceptibility to Invasive Aspergillosis 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(6):e1000101.
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a common and life-threatening infection in immunocompromised individuals. A number of environmental and epidemiologic risk factors for developing IA have been identified. However, genetic factors that affect risk for developing IA have not been clearly identified. We report that host genetic differences influence outcome following establishment of pulmonary aspergillosis in an exogenously immune suppressed mouse model. Computational haplotype-based genetic analysis indicated that genetic variation within the biologically plausible positional candidate gene plasminogen (Plg; Gene ID 18855) correlated with murine outcome. There was a single nonsynonymous coding change (Gly110Ser) where the minor allele was found in all of the susceptible strains, but not in the resistant strains. A nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (Asp472Asn) was also identified in the human homolog (PLG; Gene ID 5340). An association study within a cohort of 236 allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients revealed that alleles at this SNP significantly affected the risk of developing IA after HSCT. Furthermore, we demonstrated that plasminogen directly binds to Aspergillus fumigatus. We propose that genetic variation within the plasminogen pathway influences the pathogenesis of this invasive fungal infection.
Author Summary
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is the most common invasive mould infection among highly immune compromised hosts. While exogenous immune suppression is the greatest risk factor for infection acquisition, polymorphic variation in key immune effector genes likely contributes to disease susceptibility as well. We hypothesized that susceptibility to invasive aspergillosis was, in part, due to host genetic variation. By screening strains of inbred mice, we demonstrated differential susceptibility to invasive aspergillosis. Using the Roche Mouse single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) Database, we localized an area on murine chromosome 17 as a putative “quantitative trait locus” governing disease susceptibility. Within this interval, the gene encoding plasminogen (Plg) was found to have a coding change SNP in murine strains that were highly susceptible to disease. Many micro-organisms are recognized to hijack the plasminogen to be more prevalent in human hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients who developed IA as compared to those who did not. Thus, we demonstrated a genetic basis for increased susceptibility to IA in both a murine model and human cohort, and implicated the fibrinolytic system in the pathogenesis of this disease.
PMCID: PMC2423485  PMID: 18566672
7.  Genomic Instability and Copy-Number Heterogeneity of Chromosome 19q, Including the Kallikrein Locus, in Ovarian Carcinomas 
Molecular oncology  2010;5(1):48-60.
Many tissue kallikrein (KLK) genes and proteins are candidate diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers for ovarian cancer (OCa). We previously demonstrated that the KLK locus (19q13.3/4) is subject to copy-number gains and structural rearrangements in a pilot study of cell lines and ovarian cancer primary tissues, shown to overexpress KLK gene family members. To determine the overall frequency of genomic instability and copy-number changes, a retrospective study was conducted using formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues. Eighty-one chemotherapy naïve serous OCas were examined using 3-colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to identify structural and numerical changes on 19q, including the KLK locus; in addition to immunohistochemistry (IHC) for KLK6, which has been shown to be overexpressed in OCa. The KLK locus was subject to copy-number changes in ~83% of cases: net gain in 51%, net loss in 30% and amplified in 2%; and found to be chromosomally unstable (p<0.001). All cases showed a wide range of immuoreactivity for KLK6 by IHC. Although no strong correlation could be found with copy number, the latter was contributing factor to the observed KLK6 protein overexpression. Moreover, univariate and multivariate analyses showed an association between the net loss of the KLK locus with longer disease-free survival. Interestingly, FISH analyses indicated that chromosome 19q was subject to structural rearrangement in 62% of cases and was significantly correlated to tumor grade (p<0.001). We conclude that numerical and structural aberrations of chromosome 19q, affect genes including the KLK gene members, may contributing to ovarian carcinoma progression and aggressiveness.
PMCID: PMC3110681  PMID: 20800559
FISH; copy number; chromosomal instability; structural rearrangement; kallikrein locus; ovarian carcinoma
8.  Effect of the Y chromosome on plasma high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels in Y-chromosome-consomic mouse strains 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:393.
Plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol level is a clinically important quantitative phenotype that widely varies among inbred mouse strains. Several genes or loci associated with plasma HDL-cholesterol levels have been identified on autosomes and the X chromosome. In contrast, genes or loci on the Y chromosome have not attracted significant attention hitherto. Therefore, we investigated the effects of the Y chromosome on plasma HDL-cholesterol levels in Y- chromosome-consomic (Y-consomic) mouse strains.
Plasma HDL-cholesterol level data from 16 Y-consomic strains demonstrated that the Y chromosome substitutions significantly altered plasma HDL-cholesterol levels, i.e., variations in the plasma HDL-cholesterol level could be partially explained by Y chromosome genes. We obtained the following results from the genotype data on 30 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including nonsynonymous and synonymous SNPs and 9 polymorphisms in Sry: (1) Variation in rs46947134 of Uty was significantly associated with plasma HDL-cholesterol levels. (2) A CAG repeat number polymorphism in Sry was significantly associated with plasma HDL-cholesterol levels. (3) Strains with a certain haplotype of the Mus musculus domesticus-type Y chromosome had significantly lower plasma HDL-cholesterol levels than strains with a certain haplotype of the M. m. musculus-type Y chromosome.
The effect of the Y chromosome on plasma HDL-cholesterol levels was confirmed in the Y-consomic strains. We identified several variants associated with plasma HDL-cholesterol levels. Because the physiological significance of various Y-linked genes remains unclear, the results of this study will provide further insights into the functions of Y-linked genes in lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4080985  PMID: 24962540
HDL-cholesterol; Sry; Uty; Y-chromosome-consomic mouse strains
9.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Nox3 as a Critical Gene for Susceptibility to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(4):e1005094.
In the United States, roughly 10% of the population is exposed daily to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace. Twin studies estimate heritability for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) of approximately 36%, and strain specific variation in sensitivity has been demonstrated in mice. Based upon the difficulties inherent to the study of NIHL in humans, we have turned to the study of this complex trait in mice. We exposed 5 week-old mice from the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP) to a 10 kHz octave band noise at 108 dB for 2 hours and assessed the permanent threshold shift 2 weeks post exposure using frequency specific stimuli. These data were then used in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using the Efficient Mixed Model Analysis (EMMA) to control for population structure. In this manuscript we describe our GWAS, with an emphasis on a significant peak for susceptibility to NIHL on chromosome 17 within a haplotype block containing NADPH oxidase-3 (Nox3). Our peak was detected after an 8 kHz tone burst stimulus. Nox3 mutants and heterozygotes were then tested to validate our GWAS. The mutants and heterozygotes demonstrated a greater susceptibility to NIHL specifically at 8 kHz both on measures of distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) and on auditory brainstem response (ABR). We demonstrate that this sensitivity resides within the synaptic ribbons of the cochlea in the mutant animals specifically at 8 kHz. Our work is the first GWAS for NIHL in mice and elucidates the power of our approach to identify tonotopic genetic susceptibility to NIHL.
Author Summary
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common work-related disease in the world and the second cause of hearing loss. Although several candidate gene association studies for NIHL in humans have been conducted, each are underpowered, un-replicated, and account for only a fraction of the genetic risk. Buoyed by the prospects and successes of human association studies, several groups have proposed mouse genome-wide association studies. The environment can be carefully controlled, facilitating the study of complex traits like NIHL. In this manuscript, we describe, for the first time, an association analysis with correction for population structure for the mapping of several loci for susceptibility to NIHL in inbred strains of mice. We identify Nox3 as the associated gene for susceptibility to NIHL that the genetic susceptibility is frequency specific and that it occurs at the level of the cochlear synaptic ribbon.
PMCID: PMC4399881  PMID: 25880434
10.  Application of in silico bulked segregant analysis for rapid development of markers linked to Bean common mosaic virus resistance in common bean 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):903.
Common bean was one of the first crops that benefited from the development and utilization of molecular marker-assisted selection (MAS) for major disease resistance genes. Efficiency of MAS for breeding common bean is still hampered, however, due to the dominance, linkage phase, and loose linkage of previously developed markers. Here we applied in silico bulked segregant analysis (BSA) to the BeanCAP diversity panel, composed of over 500 lines and genotyped with the BARCBEAN_3 6K SNP BeadChip, to develop codominant and tightly linked markers to the I gene controlling resistance to Bean common mosaic virus (BCMV).
We physically mapped the genomic region underlying the I gene. This locus, in the distal arm of chromosome Pv02, contains seven putative NBS-LRR-type disease resistance genes. Two contrasting bulks, containing BCMV host differentials and ten BeanCAP lines with known disease reaction to BCMV, were subjected to in silico BSA for targeting the I gene and flanking sequences. Two distinct haplotypes, containing a cluster of six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), were associated with resistance or susceptibility to BCMV. One-hundred and twenty-two lines, including 115 of the BeanCAP panel, were screened for BCMV resistance in the greenhouse, and all of the resistant or susceptible plants displayed distinct SNP haplotypes as those found in the two bulks. The resistant/susceptible haplotypes were validated in 98 recombinant inbred lines segregating for BCMV resistance. The closest SNP (~25-32 kb) to the distal NBS-LRR gene model for the I gene locus was targeted for conversion to codominant KASP (Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR) and CAPS (Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequence) markers. Both marker systems accurately predicted the disease reaction to BCMV conferred by the I gene in all screened lines of this study.
We demonstrated the utility of the in silico BSA approach using genetically diverse germplasm, genotyped with a high-density SNP chip array, to discover SNP variation at a specific targeted genomic region. In common bean, many disease resistance genes are mapped and their physical genomic position can now be determined, thus the application of this approach will facilitate further development of codominant and tightly linked markers for use in MAS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-903) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4210609  PMID: 25326146
Marker-assisted selection; Molecular breeding; KASP; CAPS; Disease resistance
11.  Human kallikrein gene 5 (KLK5) expression is an indicator of poor prognosis in ovarian cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;84(5):643-650.
Kallikrein gene 5 (KLK5, also known as KLK-L2), located on chromosome 19q13.4, is one of the newly identified members of the kallikrein gene family, which is a subgroup of the serine protease enzyme family. In normal human tissues, KLK5 is highly expressed in skin, mammary gland and testis. Preliminary RT-PCR analysis has indicated that KLK5 is expressed in a subset of ovarian tumours. We have thus hypothesized that KLK5 may be a new prognostic indicator in ovarian cancer. We have examined the mRNA expression of KLK5 in 142 malignant ovarian tissues. Tumours were pulverized, total RNA was extracted, and cDNA was prepared by reverse transcription. KLK5 was amplified by PCR using gene specific primers, and the identity of the PCR product was verified by sequencing. Ovarian tissues were then classified as KLK5 positive or negative, based on ethidium bromide staining of the PCR product on agarose gels. KLK5 was found to be highly expressed in 58/142 (41%) of ovarian cancer samples while its level of expression was very low in normal ovarian tissues. We found a strong positive relation between KLK5 expression and tumour grade (P = 0.006) and disease stage (P = 0.027). Univariate survival analysis revealed that patients with ovarian tumours positive for KLK5 expression had an increased risk for relapse and death (P = 0.018 and 0.022, respectively). In multivariate analysis, KLK5 expression showed independent prognostic value only in the subset of tumours with lower grade disease (grades I and II). We conclude that KLK5 expression is associated with more aggressive forms of epithelial ovarian carcinoma and has indepdent prognostic value in low grade tumours. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2363783  PMID: 11237385
kallikrein gene 5; ovarian carcinoma; gene expression; survival analysis; prognostic markers; human kallikreins
12.  An Unbiased Systems Genetics Approach to Mapping Genetic Loci Modulating Susceptibility to Severe Streptococcal Sepsis 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(4):e1000042.
Striking individual differences in severity of group A streptococcal (GAS) sepsis have been noted, even among patients infected with the same bacterial strain. We had provided evidence that HLA class II allelic variation contributes significantly to differences in systemic disease severity by modulating host responses to streptococcal superantigens. Inasmuch as the bacteria produce additional virulence factors that participate in the pathogenesis of this complex disease, we sought to identify additional gene networks modulating GAS sepsis. Accordingly, we applied a systems genetics approach using a panel of advanced recombinant inbred mice. By analyzing disease phenotypes in the context of mice genotypes we identified a highly significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) on Chromosome 2 between 22 and 34 Mb that strongly predicts disease severity, accounting for 25%–30% of variance. This QTL harbors several polymorphic genes known to regulate immune responses to bacterial infections. We evaluated candidate genes within this QTL using multiple parameters that included linkage, gene ontology, variation in gene expression, cocitation networks, and biological relevance, and identified interleukin1 alpha and prostaglandin E synthases pathways as key networks involved in modulating GAS sepsis severity. The association of GAS sepsis with multiple pathways underscores the complexity of traits modulating GAS sepsis and provides a powerful approach for analyzing interactive traits affecting outcomes of other infectious diseases.
Author Summary
Group A streptococci (GAS) cause a wide variety of human diseases ranging from mild pharyngitis to streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing faciitis. Our previous studies have shown that host immunogenetic variation can dictate the clinical outcome of GAS sepsis. As in most human disease, GAS sepsis is likely to be affected by complex interactions between more than one polymorphic gene. We addressed this issue in our study where we present an approach that allowed us to identify multi genetic factors that likely contribute to sepsis severity. We mapped susceptibility to severe GAS sepsis to quantitative trait loci on Chromosome 2 using a panel of genetically diverse inbred mice. The mapped regions have high single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density that harbor genes known to play an important role in innate immune response to bacteria. Several of those genes are differentially expressed between susceptible and resistant strains of mice. Our overall approach of systematic dissection of genetic and molecular basis of host susceptibility is not unique to GAS infections, but can be applied to other infectious diseases to develop better diagnostics, design effective therapeutics and predict disease severity based on a set of genetic and soluble biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC2277464  PMID: 18421376
13.  A Candidate Gene Approach Identifies the TRAF1/C5 Region as a Risk Factor for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e278.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting ∼1% of the population. The disease results from the interplay between an individual's genetic background and unknown environmental triggers. Although human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) account for ∼30% of the heritable risk, the identities of non-HLA genes explaining the remainder of the genetic component are largely unknown. Based on functional data in mice, we hypothesized that the immune-related genes complement component 5 (C5) and/or TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1), located on Chromosome 9q33–34, would represent relevant candidate genes for RA. We therefore aimed to investigate whether this locus would play a role in RA.
Methods and Findings
We performed a multitiered case-control study using 40 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the TRAF1 and C5 (TRAF1/C5) region in a set of 290 RA patients and 254 unaffected participants (controls) of Dutch origin. Stepwise replication of significant SNPs was performed in three independent sample sets from the Netherlands (ncases/controls = 454/270), Sweden (ncases/controls = 1,500/1,000) and US (ncases/controls = 475/475). We observed a significant association (p < 0.05) of SNPs located in a haplotype block that encompasses a 65 kb region including the 3′ end of C5 as well as TRAF1. A sliding window analysis revealed an association peak at an intergenic region located ∼10 kb from both C5 and TRAF1. This peak, defined by SNP14/rs10818488, was confirmed in a total of 2,719 RA patients and 1,999 controls (odds ratiocommon = 1.28, 95% confidence interval 1.17–1.39, pcombined = 1.40 × 10−8) with a population-attributable risk of 6.1%. The A (minor susceptibility) allele of this SNP also significantly correlates with increased disease progression as determined by radiographic damage over time in RA patients (p = 0.008).
Using a candidate-gene approach we have identified a novel genetic risk factor for RA. Our findings indicate that a polymorphism in the TRAF1/C5 region increases the susceptibility to and severity of RA, possibly by influencing the structure, function, and/or expression levels of TRAF1 and/or C5.
Using a candidate-gene approach, Rene Toes and colleagues identified a novel genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis in theTRAF1/C5 region.
Editors' Summary
Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common chronic illness that affects around 1% of people in developed countries. It is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to various tissues within the body; as well as affecting joints and causing an inflammatory arthritis, it can also affect many other organs of the body. Severe rheumatoid arthritis can be life-threatening, but even mild forms of the disease cause substantial illness and disability. Current treatments aim to give symptomatic relief with the use of simple analgesics, or anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, most patients are also treated with what are known as disease-modifying agents, which aim to prevent joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis is known to have a genetic component. For example, an association has been shown with the part of the genome that contains the human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which are involved in the immune response. Information on other genes involved would be helpful both for understanding the underlying cause of the disease and possibly for the discovery of new treatments.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous work in mice that have a disease similar to human rheumatoid arthritis has identified a number of possible candidate genes. One of these genes, complement component 5 (C5) is involved in the complement system—a primitive system within the body that is involved in the defense against foreign molecules. In humans the gene for C5 is located on Chromosome 9 close to another gene involved in the inflammatory response, TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1). A preliminary study in humans of this region had shown some evidence, albeit weak, to suggest that this region might be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The authors set out to look in more detail, and in a larger group of individuals, to see if they could prove this association.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took 40 genetic markers, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), from across the region that included the C5 and TRAF1 genes. SNPs have each been assigned a unique reference number that specifies a point in the human genome, and each is present in alternate forms so can be differentiated. They compared which of the alternate forms were present in 290 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 254 unaffected participants of Dutch origin. They then repeated the study in three other groups of patients and controls of Dutch, Swedish, and US origin. They found a consistent association with rheumatoid arthritis of one region of 65 kilobases (a small distance in genetic terms) that included one end of the C5 gene as well as the TRAF1 gene. They could refine the area of interest to a piece marked by one particular SNP that lay between the genes. They went on to show that the genetic region in which these genes are located may be involved in the binding of a protein that modifies the transcription of genes, thus providing a possible explanation for the association. Furthermore, they showed that one of the alternate versions of the marker in this region was associated with more aggressive disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding of a genetic association is the first step in identifying a genetic component of a disease. The strength of this study is that a novel genetic susceptibility factor for RA has been identified and that the overall result is consistent in four different populations as well as being associated with disease severity. Further work will need to be done to confirm the association in other populations and then to identify the precise genetic change involved. Hopefully this work will lead to new avenues of investigation for therapy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• Medline Plus, the health information site for patients from the US National Library of Medicine, has a page of resources on rheumatoid arthritis
• The UK's National Health Service online information site has information on rheumatoid arthritis
• The Arthritis Research Campaign, a UK charity that funds research on all types of arthritis, has a booklet with information for patients on rheumatoid arthritis
• Reumafonds, a Dutch arthritis foundation, gives information on rheumatoid arthritis (in Dutch)
• Autocure is an initiative whose objective is to transform knowledge obtained from molecular research into a cure for an increasing number of patients suffering from inflammatory rheumatic diseases
• The European league against Rheumatism, an organisation which represents the patient, health professionals, and scientific societies of rheumatology of all European nations
PMCID: PMC1976626  PMID: 17880261
14.  Comprehensive Linkage and Association Analyses Identify Haplotype, Near to the TNFSF15 Gene, Significantly Associated with Spondyloarthritis 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000528.
Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder with a strong genetic predisposition dominated by the role of HLA-B27. However, the contribution of other genes to the disease susceptibility has been clearly demonstrated. We previously reported significant evidence of linkage of SpA to chromosome 9q31–34. The current study aimed to characterize this locus, named SPA2. First, we performed a fine linkage mapping of SPA2 (24 cM) with 28 microsatellite markers in 149 multiplex families, which allowed us to reduce the area of investigation to an 18 cM (13 Mb) locus delimited by the markers D9S279 and D9S112. Second, we constructed a linkage disequilibrium (LD) map of this region with 1,536 tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 136 families (263 patients). The association was assessed using a transmission disequilibrium test. One tag SNP, rs4979459, yielded a significant P-value (4.9×10−5). Third, we performed an extension association study with rs4979459 and 30 surrounding SNPs in LD with it, in 287 families (668 patients), and in a sample of 139 cases and 163 controls. Strong association was observed in both familial and case/control datasets for several SNPs. In the replication study, carried with 8 SNPs in an independent sample of 232 cases and 149 controls, one SNP, rs6478105, yielded a nominal P-value<3×10−2. Pooled case/control study (371 cases and 312 controls) as well as combined analysis of extension and replication data showed very significant association (P<5×10−4) for 6 of the 8 latter markers (rs7849556, rs10817669, rs10759734, rs6478105, rs10982396, and rs10733612). Finally, haplotype association investigations identified a strongly associated haplotype (P<8.8×10−5) consisting of these 6 SNPs and located in the direct vicinity of the TNFSF15 gene. In conclusion, we have identified within the SPA2 locus a haplotype strongly associated with predisposition to SpA which is located near to TNFSF15, one of the major candidate genes in this region.
Author Summary
Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a common variety of articular inflammatory disorder characterized by axial and/or peripheral arthritis, frequently associated with extra-articular manifestations such as psoriasis, uveitis, and inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (CD)). SpA is a complex disorder with high heritability. The MHC class I HLA-B27 allele is a very strong risk factor for its development, but other genetic factors located outside the MHC also play a role in disease susceptibility. By a previous whole-genome linkage investigation, we have demonstrated that a region located on the chromosome 9q31–34 was involved in SpA susceptibility. The present study aimed to further characterize this locus. Using a stepwise linkage and association approach, we identified a haplotype spanning 6 single-nucleotide polymorphisms strongly associated with SpA and located in a genomic region paralogous to the MHC, near to the TNFSF15 gene. Interestingly, polymorphisms of this gene have previously been shown to be associated with CD. This original finding offers a new research track for the understanding of SpA pathophysiology, which is still poorly understood, as well as new hope for diagnostic and therapeutic innovation.
PMCID: PMC2689651  PMID: 19543369
15.  Integrative Assessment of Chlorine-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
The genetic basis for the underlying individual susceptibility to chlorine-induced acute lung injury is unknown. To uncover the genetic basis and pathophysiological processes that could provide additional homeostatic capacities during lung injury, 40 inbred murine strains were exposed to chlorine, and haplotype association mapping was performed. The identified single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations were evaluated through transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. Using ≥ 10% allelic frequency and ≥ 10% phenotype explained as threshold criteria, promoter SNPs that could eliminate putative transcriptional factor recognition sites in candidate genes were assessed by determining transcript levels through microarray and reverse real-time PCR during chlorine exposure. The mean survival time varied by approximately 5-fold among strains, and SNP associations were identified for 13 candidate genes on chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, and 15. Microarrays revealed several differentially enriched pathways, including protein transport (decreased more in the sensitive C57BLKS/J lung) and protein catabolic process (increased more in the resistant C57BL/10J lung). Lung metabolomic profiling revealed 95 of the 280 metabolites measured were altered by chlorine exposure, and included alanine, which decreased more in the C57BLKS/J than in the C57BL/10J strain, and glutamine, which increased more in the C57BL/10J than in the C57BLKS/J strain. Genetic associations from haplotype mapping were strengthened by an integrated assessment using transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. The leading candidate genes associated with increased susceptibility to acute lung injury in mice included Klf4, Sema7a, Tns1, Aacs, and a gene that encodes an amino acid carrier, Slc38a4.
PMCID: PMC3423464  PMID: 22447970
ARDS; countermeasures; glutamine; genetics; metabolomics
16.  Association of Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms of the Tau Gene With Late-Onset Parkinson Disease 
The human tau gene, which promotes assembly of neuronal microtubules, has been associated with several rare neurologic diseases that clinically include parkinsonian features. We recently observed linkage in idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD) to a region on chromosome 17q21 that contains the tau gene. These factors make tau a good candidate for investigation as a susceptibility gene for idiopathic PD, the most common form of the disease.
To investigate whether the tau gene is involved in idiopathic PD.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Among a sample of 1056 individuals from 235 families selected from 13 clinical centers in the United States and Australia and from a family ascertainment core center, we tested 5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the tau gene for association with PD, using family-based tests of association. Both affected (n = 426) and unaffected (n = 579) family members were included; 51 individuals had unclear PD status. Analyses were conducted to test individual SNPs and SNP haplotypes within the tau gene.
Main Outcome Measure
Family-based tests of association, calculated using asymptotic distributions.
Analysis of association between the SNPs and PD yielded significant evidence of association for 3 of the 5 SNPs tested: SNP 3, P = .03; SNP 9i, P = .04; and SNP 11, P = .04. The 2 other SNPs did not show evidence of significant association (SNP 9ii, P = .11, and SNP 9iii, P = .87). Strong evidence of association was found with haplotype analysis, with a positive association with one haplotype (P = .009) and a negative association with another haplotype (P = .007). Substantial linkage disequilibrium (P<.001) was detected between 4 of the 5 SNPs (SNPs 3,9i, 9ii, and 11).
This integrated approach of genetic linkage and positional association analyses implicates tau as a susceptibility gene for idiopathic PD.
PMCID: PMC3973175  PMID: 11710889
17.  Genetic Control of Susceptibility to Infection with Candida albicans in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18957.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen that causes acute disseminated infections in immunocompromised hosts, representing an important cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. To study the genetic control of susceptibility to disseminated C. albicans in mice, we phenotyped a group of 23 phylogenetically distant inbred strains for susceptibility to infection as measured by extent of fungal replication in the kidney 48 hours following infection. Susceptibility was strongly associated with the loss-of-function mutant complement component 5 (C5/Hc) allele, which is known to be inherited by approximately 40% of inbred strains. Our survey identified 2 discordant strains, AKR/J (C5-deficient, resistant) and SM/J (C5-sufficient, susceptible), suggesting that additional genetic effects may control response to systemic candidiasis in these strains. Haplotype association mapping in the 23 strains using high density SNP maps revealed several putative loci regulating the extent of C. albicans replication, amongst which the most significant were C5 (P value = 2.43×10−11) and a novel effect on distal chromosome 11 (P value = 7.63×10−9). Compared to other C5-deficient strains, infected AKR/J strain displays a reduced fungal burden in the brain, heart and kidney, and increased survival, concomitant with uniquely high levels of serum IFNγ. C5-independent genetic effects were further investigated by linkage analysis in an [A/JxAKR/J]F2 cross (n = 158) where the mutant Hc allele is fixed. These studies identified a chromosome 11 locus (Carg4, Candida albicans resistance gene 4; LOD = 4.59), and a chromosome 8 locus (Carg3; LOD = 3.95), both initially detected by haplotype association mapping. Alleles at both loci were inherited in a co-dominant manner. Our results verify the important effect of C5-deficiency in inbred mouse strains, and further identify two novel loci, Carg3 and Carg4, which regulate resistance to C. albicans infection in a C5-independent manner.
PMCID: PMC3080400  PMID: 21533108
18.  The lupus susceptibility gene kallikrein down-modulates antibody-mediated glomerulonephritis 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):503-508.
Sle3 is an NZM2410/NZW-derived lupus susceptibility interval on murine chromosome 7, that is associated with spontaneous lupus nephritis, and also anti-GBM induced glomerulonephritis. The tissue kallikrein gene cluster is located within the Sle3 interval and constitutes potential candidate genes for this locus. We have recently reported that renal kallikrein expression was up-regulated by anti-GBM antibody challenge in a strain-specific manner and that it was significantly under-expressed in the anti-GBM sensitive strains, including B6.Sle3. Further sequencing and functional studies reported previously provided evidence that kallikreins could constitute disease genes in lupus. In the present report, we have used an adenoviral vector to deliver the klk1 gene to B6.Sle3 congenics to directly test if kallikreins might have a protective effect against anti-GBM induced nephritis. Our data shows that klk1 gene delivery ameliorated anti-GBM induced nephritis in B6.Sle3 congenics. Taken together with previous studies, these findings indicate that kallikreins play an important protective role in autoantibody-initiated glomerulonephritis, and could constitute potential candidate genes for anti-GBM induced and spontaneous lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC2742360  PMID: 19262577
Kallikrein; anti-GBM; glomerulonephritis; adenovirus; lupus
19.  Genetic Association of the KLK4 Locus with Risk of Prostate Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44520.
The Kallikrein-related peptidase, KLK4, has been shown to be significantly overexpressed in prostate tumours in numerous studies and is suggested to be a potential biomarker for prostate cancer. KLK4 may also play a role in prostate cancer progression through its involvement in epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a more aggressive phenotype, and metastases to bone. It is well known that genetic variation has the potential to affect gene expression and/or various protein characteristics and hence we sought to investigate the possible role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the KLK4 gene in prostate cancer. Assessment of 61 SNPs in the KLK4 locus (±10 kb) in approximately 1300 prostate cancer cases and 1300 male controls for associations with prostate cancer risk and/or prostate tumour aggressiveness (Gleason score <7 versus ≥7) revealed 7 SNPs to be associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer at the Ptrend<0.05 significance level. Three of these SNPs, rs268923, rs56112930 and the HapMap tagSNP rs7248321, are located several kb upstream of KLK4; rs1654551 encodes a non-synonymous serine to alanine substitution at position 22 of the long isoform of the KLK4 protein, and the remaining 3 risk-associated SNPs, rs1701927, rs1090649 and rs806019, are located downstream of KLK4 and are in high linkage disequilibrium with each other (r2≥0.98). Our findings provide suggestive evidence of a role for genetic variation in the KLK4 locus in prostate cancer predisposition.
PMCID: PMC3435290  PMID: 22970239
20.  Evolutionary History of Tissue Kallikreins 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13781.
The gene family of human kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) encodes proteins with diverse and pleiotropic functions in normal physiology as well as in disease states. Currently, the most widely known KLK is KLK3 or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that has applications in clinical diagnosis and monitoring of prostate cancer. The KLK gene family encompasses the largest contiguous cluster of serine proteases in humans which is not interrupted by non-KLK genes. This exceptional and unique characteristic of KLKs makes them ideal for evolutionary studies aiming to infer the direction and timing of gene duplication events. Previous studies on the evolution of KLKs were restricted to mammals and the emergence of KLKs was suggested about 150 million years ago (mya). In order to elucidate the evolutionary history of KLKs, we performed comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of KLK homologous proteins in multiple genomes including those that have been completed recently. Interestingly, we were able to identify novel reptilian, avian and amphibian KLK members which allowed us to trace the emergence of KLKs 330 mya. We suggest that a series of duplication and mutation events gave rise to the KLK gene family. The prominent feature of the KLK family is that it consists of tandemly and uninterruptedly arrayed genes in all species under investigation. The chromosomal co-localization in a single cluster distinguishes KLKs from trypsin and other trypsin-like proteases which are spread in different genetic loci. All the defining features of the KLKs were further found to be conserved in the novel KLK protein sequences. The study of this unique family will further assist in selecting new model organisms for functional studies of proteolytic pathways involving KLKs.
PMCID: PMC2967472  PMID: 21072173
21.  Genetic Linkage and Association of the Growth Hormone Secretagogue Receptor (Ghrelin Receptor) Gene in Human Obesity 
Diabetes  2005;54(1):259-267.
The growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) (ghrelin receptor) plays an important role in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis. The GHSR gene lies on human chromosome 3q26 within a quantitative trait locus strongly linked to multiple phenotypes related to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Because the biological function and location of the GHSR gene make it an excellent candidate gene, we tested the relation between common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the GHSR gene and human obesity. We performed a comprehensive analysis of SNPs, linkage disequilibrium (LD), and haplotype structure across the entire GHSR gene region (99.3 kb) in 178 pedigrees with multiple obese members (DNA of 1,095 Caucasians) and in an independent sample of the general population (MONICA Augsburg left ventricular hypertrophy substudy; DNA of 1,418 Caucasians). The LD analysis revealed a disequilibrium block consisting of five SNPs, consistent in both study cohorts. We found linkage among all five SNPs, their haplotypes, and BMI. Further, we found suggestive evidence for transmission disequilibrium for the minor SNP alleles (P < 0.05) and the two most common haplotypes with the obesity affection status (“susceptible” P = 0.025, “nonsusceptible” P = 0.045) in the family cohort using the family-based association test program. Replication of these findings in the general population resulted in stronger evidence for an association of the SNPs (best P = 0.00001) and haplotypes with the disease (“susceptible” P = 0.002, “nonsusceptible” P = 0.002). To our knowledge, these data are the first to demonstrate linkage and association of SNPs and haplotypes within the GHSR gene region and human obesity. This linkage, together with significant transmission disequilibrium in families and replication of this association in an independent population, provides evidence that common SNPs and haplotypes within the GHSR region are involved in the pathogenesis of human obesity.
PMCID: PMC2793077  PMID: 15616037
22.  Association between Prostinogen (KLK15) Genetic Variants and Prostate Cancer Risk and Aggressiveness in Australia and a Meta-Analysis of GWAS Data 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26527.
Kallikrein 15 (KLK15)/Prostinogen is a plausible candidate for prostate cancer susceptibility. Elevated KLK15 expression has been reported in prostate cancer and it has been described as an unfavorable prognostic marker for the disease.
We performed a comprehensive analysis of association of variants in the KLK15 gene with prostate cancer risk and aggressiveness by genotyping tagSNPs, as well as putative functional SNPs identified by extensive bioinformatics analysis.
Methods and Data Sources
Twelve out of 22 SNPs, selected on the basis of linkage disequilibrium pattern, were analyzed in an Australian sample of 1,011 histologically verified prostate cancer cases and 1,405 ethnically matched controls. Replication was sought from two existing genome wide association studies (GWAS): the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) project and a UK GWAS study.
Two KLK15 SNPs, rs2659053 and rs3745522, showed evidence of association (p<0.05) but were not present on the GWAS platforms. KLK15 SNP rs2659056 was found to be associated with prostate cancer aggressiveness and showed evidence of association in a replication cohort of 5,051 patients from the UK, Australia, and the CGEMS dataset of US samples. A highly significant association with Gleason score was observed when the data was combined from these three studies with an Odds Ratio (OR) of 0.85 (95% CI = 0.77–0.93; p = 2.7×10−4). The rs2659056 SNP is predicted to alter binding of the RORalpha transcription factor, which has a role in the control of cell growth and differentiation and has been suggested to control the metastatic behavior of prostate cancer cells.
Our findings suggest a role for KLK15 genetic variation in the etiology of prostate cancer among men of European ancestry, although further studies in very large sample sets are necessary to confirm effect sizes.
PMCID: PMC3223160  PMID: 22132073
23.  Haplotype structure and linkage disequilibrium in chemokine and chemokine receptor genes 
Human Genomics  2004;1(4):255-273.
To dissect the haplotype structure of candidate genes for disease association studies, it is important to understand the nature of genetic variation at these loci in different populations. We present a survey of haplotype structure and linkage disequilibrium of chemokine and chemokine receptor genes in 11 geographically-distinct population samples (n = 728). Chemokine proteins are involved in intercellular signalling and the immune response. These molecules are important modulators of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection and the progression of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, tumour development and the metastatic process of cancer. To study the extent of genetic variation in this gene family, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 13 chemokine and chemokine receptor genes were genotyped using the 5' nuclease assay (TaqMan).
SNP haplotypes, estimated from unphased genotypes using the Expectation-Maximization-algorithm, are described in a cluster of four CC-chemokine receptor genes (CCR3, CCR2, CCR5 and CCRL2) on chromosome 3p21, and a cluster of three CC-chemokine genes [MPIF-1 (CCL23) PARC (CCL18) and MIP- 1α (CCL3)] on chromosome 17q11-12. The 32 base pair (bp) deletion in exon 4 of CCR5 was also included in the haplotype analysis of 3p21. A total of 87.5 per cent of the variation of 14 biallelic loci scattered over 150 kilobases of 3p21 is explained by 11 haplotypes which have a frequency of at least 1 per cent in the total sample. An analysis of haplotype blocks in this region indicates recombination between CCR2 and CCR5, although long-range pairwise linkage disequilibrium across the region appears to remain intact on two common haplotypes. A reduced-median network demonstrates a clear relationship between 3p21 haplotypes, rooted by the putative ancestral haplotype determined by direct sequencing of four primate species. Analysis of six SNPs on 17q11-12 indicates that 97.5 per cent of the variation is explained by 15 haplotypes, representing at least 1 per cent of the total sample. Additionally, a possible signature of selection at a non-synonymous coding SNP (M106V) in the MPIF-1 (CCL23) gene warrants further study. We anticipate that the results of this study of chemokine and chemokine receptor variation will be applicable to more extensive surveys of long-range haplotype structure in these gene regions and to association studies of HIV-1 disease and cancer.
PMCID: PMC3525265  PMID: 15588486
chemokine; SNP; population genetics; variation; haplotype estimation; linkage disequilibrium
24.  A Comprehensive Genetic Analysis of Candidate Genes Regulating Response to Trypanosoma congolense Infection in Mice 
African trypanosomes are protozoan parasites that cause “sleeping sickness” in humans and a similar disease in livestock. Trypanosomes also infect laboratory mice and three major quantitative trait loci (QTL) that regulate survival time after infection with T. congolense have been identified in two independent crosses between susceptible A/J and BALB/c mice, and the resistant C57BL/6. These were designated Tir1, Tir2 and Tir3 for Trypanosoma infection response, and range in size from 0.9–12 cM.
Principal Findings
Mapping loci regulating survival time after T. congolense infection in an additional cross revealed that susceptible C3H/HeJ mice have alleles that reduce survival time after infection at Tir1 and Tir3 QTL, but not at Tir2. Next-generation resequencing of a 6.2 Mbp region of mouse chromosome 17, which includes Tir1, identified 1,632 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) including a probably damaging non-synonymous SNP in Pram1 (PML-RAR alpha-regulated adaptor molecule 1), which was the most plausible candidate QTL gene in Tir1. Genome-wide comparative genomic hybridisation identified 12 loci with copy number variants (CNV) that correlate with differential gene expression, including Cd244 (natural killer cell receptor 2B4), which lies close to the peak of Tir3c and has gene expression that correlates with CNV and phenotype, making it a strong candidate QTL gene at this locus.
By systematically combining next-generation DNA capture and sequencing, array-based comparative genomic hybridisation (aCGH), gene expression data and SNP annotation we have developed a strategy that can generate a short list of polymorphisms in candidate QTL genes that can be functionally tested.
Author Summary
About one-third of cattle in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of contracting “Nagana”—a disease caused by Trypanosoma parasites similar to those that cause human “Sleeping Sickness.” Laboratory mice can also be infected by trypanosomes, and different mouse breeds show varying levels of susceptibility to infection, similar to what is seen between different breeds of cattle. Survival time after infection is controlled by the underlying genetics of the mouse breed, and previous studies have localised three genomic regions that regulate this trait. These three “Quantitative Trait Loci” (QTL), which have been called Tir1, Tir2 and Tir3 (for Trypanosoma Infection Response 1–3) are well defined, but nevertheless still contain over one thousand genes, any number of which may be influencing survival. This study has aimed to identify the specific differences associated with genes that are controlling mouse survival after T. congolense infection. We have applied a series of analyses to existing datasets, and combined them with novel sequencing, and other genetic data to create short lists of genes that share polymorphisms across susceptible mouse breeds, including two promising “candidate genes”: Pram1 at Tir1 and Cd244 at Tir3. These genes can now be tested to confirm their effect on response to trypanosome infection.
PMCID: PMC2976683  PMID: 21085469
25.  Association of RXR-Gamma Gene Variants with Familial Combined Hyperlipidemia: Genotype and Haplotype Analysis 
Journal of Lipids  2013;2013:517943.
Background. Familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL), the most common genetic form of hyperlipdemia, is characterized by a strong familial clustering and by premature coronary heart disease. The FCHL locus has been mapped to human chromosome 1q21-q23. This region includes the retinoid X receptor gamma (RXRG), a nuclear factor member of the RXR superfamily, which plays important roles in lipid homeostasis. Objective. To investigate the possible role of the RXRG gene in the genetic susceptibility to FCHL. Methods. Variations in RXRG gene were searched by direct sequencing, and the identified SNPs were genotyped by PCR-RFLP in 192 FCHL individuals from 74 families and in 119 controls. Results. We identified 5 polymorphisms in the RXRG gene (rs1128977, rs2651860, rs2134095, rs283696, and rs10918169). Genotyping showed that the A-allele of rs283696 SNP was significantly associated with FCHL (corrected P, Pc < 0.01). Also the alleles of the rs10918169 and of the rs2651860 SNP were more frequent in FCHL subjects compared to those in controls, although not significantly after correction. When the clinical characteristics of the FCHL subjects were stratified by allele carrier status for each SNP, the rs2651860 SNP was significantly associated with increased levels of LDL-cholesterol and of Apo-B in T-allele carriers (P < 0.04). Finally, haplotypes analysis with all 5 SNPs confirmed the significant association of RXRG gene with FCHL. Specifically, the haplotype containing all 3 “at-risk” alleles, significantly associated with FCHL (A-allele of rs283696, G-allele of rs10918169, and T-allele of rs2651860), showed an OR (Odds Ratio) of 2.02, Pc < 0.048. Conversely, the haplotype without all these 3 alleles was associated with a reduced risk for FCHL (OR = 0.39, Pc < 0.023). The “at-risk” haplotype CTTAG was also associated with higher LDL-C (P < 0.015). In conclusion, variation in the RXRG gene may contribute to the genetic dyslipidemia in FCHL subjects.
PMCID: PMC3810489  PMID: 24222859

Results 1-25 (1100696)