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1.  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
2.  Detection of Catalase as a major protein target of the lipid peroxidation product 4-HNE and the lack of its genetic association as a risk factor in SLE 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:62.
Background
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multifactorial disorder characterized by the presence of autoantibodies. We and others have implicated free radical mediated peroxidative damage in the pathogenesis of SLE. Since harmful free radical products are formed during this oxidative process, including 4-hydroxy 2-nonenol (4-HNE) and malondialdehyde (MDA), we hypothesized that specific HNE-protein adducts would be present in SLE red blood cell (RBC) membranes. Catalase is located on chromosome 11p13 where linkage analysis has revealed a marker in the same region of the genome among families with thrombocytopenia, a clinical manifestation associated with severe lupus in SLE affected pedigrees. Moreover, SLE afflicts African-Americans three times more frequently than their European-American counterparts. Hence we investigated the effects of a genetic polymorphism of catalase on risk and severity of SLE in 48 pedigrees with African American ancestry.
Methods
Tryptic digestion followed by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) analysis was used to identify the protein modified by HNE, following Coomassie staining to visualize the bands on the acrylamide gels. Genotyping analysis for the C → T, -262 bp polymorphism in the promoter region of catalase was performed by PCR-RFLP and direct PCR-sequencing. We used a "pedigree disequilibrium test" for the family based association analysis, implemented in the PDT program to analyze the genotyping results.
Results
We found two proteins to be HNE-modified, migrating around 80 and 50 kD respectively. Tryptic digestion followed by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) analysis of the Coomassie stained 80 kD band revealed that the target of HNE modification was catalase, a protein shown to associate with RBC membrane proteins. All the test statistics carried out on the genotyping analysis for the C → T, -262 bp polymorphism in the promoter region of catalase were non-significant (p > 0.05) in our data, which suggested that this SNP is not associated with SLE.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that catalase is one of the proteins modified due to oxidative stress. However, catalase may not be a susceptibility gene for SLE. Nonetheless, catalase is oxidatively modified among SLE patients. This suggests a possible role between oxidative modification of catalase and its affects on enzymatic activity in SLE. An oxidatively modified catalase could be one of the reasons for lower enzymatic activity among SLE subjects, which in turn could favor the accumulation of deleterious hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, HNE-products are potential neoantigens and could be involved in the pathogenesis of SLE. Decrease in catalase activity could affect the oxidant-antioxidant balance. Chronic disturbance of this balance in patients with SLE may work favorably for the premature onset of atherogenesis with severe vascular effect.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-9-62
PMCID: PMC2474584  PMID: 18606005
3.  Murine Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multifactorial autoimmune disorder. The study of diverse mouse models of lupus has provided clues to the etiology of SLE. Spontaneous mouse models of lupus have led to identification of numerous susceptibility loci from which several candidate genes have emerged. Meanwhile, induced models of lupus have provided insight into the role of environmental factors in lupus pathogenesis as well as provided a better understanding of cellular mechanisms involved in the onset and progression of disease. The SLE-like phenotypes present in these models have also served to screen numerous potential SLE therapies. Due to the complex nature of SLE, it is necessary to understand the effect specific targeted therapies have on immune homeostasis. Furthermore, knowledge gained from mouse models will provide novel therapy targets for the treatment of SLE.
doi:10.1155/2011/271694
PMCID: PMC3042628  PMID: 21403825
4.  Patient-reported outcome measures for systemic lupus erythematosus clinical trials: a review of content validity, face validity and psychometric performance 
Background
Despite overall progress in treatment of autoimmune diseases, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) experience many inflammatory symptoms representing an unmet medical need. This study aimed to create a conceptual model of the humanistic and economic burden of SLE, and review the patient-reported outcomes (PROs) used to measure such concepts in SLE clinical trials.
Methods
A conceptual model for SLE was developed from structured review of published articles from 2007 to August 2013 identified from literature databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, EconLit) plus other sources (PROLabels, FDA/EMA websites, Clinicaltrials.gov). PROs targeting key symptoms/impacts were identified from the literature. They were reviewed in the context of available guidance and assessed for face and content validity and psychometric properties to determine appropriateness for use in SLE trials.
Results
The conceptual model identified fatigue, pain, cognition, daily activities, emotional well-being, physical/social functioning and work productivity as key SLE concepts. Of the 68 articles reviewed, 38 reported PRO data. From these and the other sources, 15 PROs were selected for review, including SLE-specific health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measures (n = 5), work productivity (n = 1), and generic measures of fatigue (n = 3), pain (n = 2), depression (n = 2) and HRQoL (n = 2). The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Fatigue Scale (FACIT-Fatigue), Brief Pain Inventory (BPI-SF) and LupusQoL demonstrated the strongest face validity, conceptual coverage and psychometric properties measuring key concepts in the conceptual model. All PROs reviewed, except for three Lupus-specific measures, lacked qualitative SLE patient involvement during development. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Short Form [36 item] Health Survey version 2 (SF-36v2), EuroQoL 5-dimensions (EQ-5D-3L and EQ-5D-5L) and Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire: Lupus (WPAI:Lupus) showed suitability for SLE economic models.
Conclusions
Based on the identification of key symptoms and impacts of SLE using a scientifically sound conceptual model, we conclude that SLE is a condition associated with high unmet need and considerable burden to patients. This review highlights the availability and need for disease-specific and generic patient-reported measures of relevant domains of disease signs and symptoms, HRQoL and work productivity, providing useful insight for SLE clinical trial design.
doi:10.1186/s12955-014-0116-1
PMCID: PMC4223409  PMID: 25048687
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Patient-reported outcomes; Conceptual model; Fatigue; Health-related quality of life
5.  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
6.  Linking susceptibility genes and pathogenesis mechanisms using mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2014;7(9):1033-1046.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) represents a challenging autoimmune disease from a clinical perspective because of its varied forms of presentation. Although broad-spectrum steroids remain the standard treatment for SLE, they have many side effects and only provide temporary relief from the symptoms of the disease. Thus, gaining a deeper understanding of the genetic traits and biological pathways that confer susceptibility to SLE will help in the design of more targeted and effective therapeutics. Both human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and investigations using a variety of mouse models of SLE have been valuable for the identification of the genes and pathways involved in pathogenesis. In this Review, we link human susceptibility genes for SLE with biological pathways characterized in mouse models of lupus, and discuss how the mechanistic insights gained could advance drug discovery for the disease.
doi:10.1242/dmm.016451
PMCID: PMC4142724  PMID: 25147296
Lupus; SLE; Human genetics; Mouse models; Susceptibility genes
7.  Biomarker Discovery for Lupus Nephritis Through Longitudinal Urine Proteomics 
Kidney international  2008;74(6):799-807.
Lupus nephritis is a frequent and serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Treatment often requires the use of immunosuppression, and may be associated with severe side effects. The ability to predict relapse, relapse severity, and recovery could be used to more effectively implement therapy and reduce toxicity. We postulated that a proteomic analysis of the low-molecular weight urine proteome using serial urine samples obtained before, during, and after SLE nephritis flares would demonstrate potential biomarkers of SLE renal flare. This study was undertaken to test our hypothesis.
Urine from 25 flare cycles of 19 WHO Class III, IV, and V SLE nephritis patients was used. Urine samples included a baseline, and pre-flare, flare, and post-flare specimens. The urines were fractionated to remove proteins larger than 30 kDa, and spotted onto weak cation exchanger (CM10) protein chips for analysis by surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF MS).
SELDI-TOF MS screening showed 176 protein ions between 2-20 kDa of which 27 were found to be differentially-expressed between specific flare intervals. On-chip peptide sequencing by integrated tandem mass spectrometry was used to positively identify selected differentially-expressed protein ions. The identified proteins included the 20 and 25 amino acid isoforms of hepcidin, a fragment of α1-antitrypsin, and an albumin fragment. Hepcidin 20 increased 4 months pre-flare and returned to baseline at renal flare, whereas hepcidin 25 decreased at renal flare and returned to baseline 4 months post-flare.
Using SELDI-TOF urine protein profiling in lupus nephritis, several candidate biomarkers of renal flare were found. To verify these candidates as true biomarkers, further identification and validation are needed in an independent SLE cohort.
doi:10.1038/ki.2008.316
PMCID: PMC2614389  PMID: 18596723
lupus nephritis; biomarker; SELDI
8.  Differential Genetic Associations for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Based on Anti–dsDNA Autoantibody Production 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1001323.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous, systemic autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody formation. Previously published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have investigated SLE as a single phenotype. Therefore, we conducted a GWAS to identify genetic factors associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production, a SLE–related autoantibody with diagnostic and clinical importance. Using two independent datasets, over 400,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were studied in a total of 1,717 SLE cases and 4,813 healthy controls. Anti–dsDNA autoantibody positive (anti–dsDNA +, n = 811) and anti–dsDNA autoantibody negative (anti–dsDNA –, n = 906) SLE cases were compared to healthy controls and to each other to identify SNPs associated specifically with these SLE subtypes. SNPs in the previously identified SLE susceptibility loci STAT4, IRF5, ITGAM, and the major histocompatibility complex were strongly associated with anti–dsDNA + SLE. Far fewer and weaker associations were observed for anti–dsDNA – SLE. For example, rs7574865 in STAT4 had an OR for anti–dsDNA + SLE of 1.77 (95% CI 1.57–1.99, p = 2.0E-20) compared to an OR for anti–dsDNA – SLE of 1.26 (95% CI 1.12–1.41, p = 2.4E-04), with pheterogeneity<0.0005. SNPs in the SLE susceptibility loci BANK1, KIAA1542, and UBE2L3 showed evidence of association with anti–dsDNA + SLE and were not associated with anti–dsDNA – SLE. In conclusion, we identified differential genetic associations with SLE based on anti–dsDNA autoantibody production. Many previously identified SLE susceptibility loci may confer disease risk through their role in autoantibody production and be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity loci. Lack of strong SNP associations may suggest that other types of genetic variation or non-genetic factors such as environmental exposures have a greater impact on susceptibility to anti–dsDNA – SLE.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can involve virtually any organ system. SLE patients produce antibodies that bind to their own cells and proteins (autoantibodies) which can cause irreversible organ damage. One particular SLE–related autoantibody directed at double-stranded DNA (anti–dsDNA) is associated with kidney involvement and more severe disease. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in SLE have studied SLE itself, not particular SLE manifestations. Therefore, we conducted this GWAS of anti–dsDNA autoantibody production to identify genetic associations with this clinically important autoantibody. We found that many previously identified SLE–associated genes are more strongly associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production than SLE itself, and they may be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity genes. No strong genetic associations were observed for SLE patients who do not produce anti–dsDNA autoantibodies, suggesting that other factors may have more influence in developing this type of SLE. Further investigation of these autoantibody propensity genes may lead to greater insight into the causes of autoantibody production and organ damage in SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001323
PMCID: PMC3048371  PMID: 21408207
9.  Serum Protein Profiling of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Systemic Sclerosis Using Recombinant Antibody Microarrays* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2011;10(5):M110.005033.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc) are two severe autoimmune connective tissue diseases. The fundamental knowledge about their etiology is limited and the conditions display complex pathogenesis, multifaceted presentations, and unpredictable courses. Despite significant efforts, the lack of fully validated biomarkers enabling diagnosis, classification, and monitoring of disease activity represents significant unmet clinical needs. In this discovery study, we have for the first time used recombinant antibody microarrays for miniaturized, multiplexed serum protein profiling of SLE and SSc, targeting mainly immunoregulatory proteins. The data showed that several candidate SLE-associated multiplexed serum biomarker signatures were delineated, reflecting disease (diagnosis), disease severity (phenotypic subsets), and disease activity. Selected differentially expressed markers were validated using orthogonal assays and a second, independent patient cohort. Further, biomarker signatures differentiating SLE versus SSc were demonstrated, and the observed differences increased with severity of SLE. In contrast, the data showed that the serum profiles of SSc versus healthy controls were more similar. Hence, we have shown that affinity proteomics could be used to de-convolute crude, nonfractionated serum proteomes, extracting molecular portraits of SLE and SSc, further enhancing our fundamental understanding of these complex autoimmune conditions.
doi:10.1074/mcp.M110.005033
PMCID: PMC3098590  PMID: 21350050
10.  Amelioration of Lupus Nephritis by Serum Amyloid P Component Gene Therapy with Distinct Mechanisms Varied from Different Stage of the Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22659.
Background
Our previous study revealed that administration of syngeneic female BALB/c mice with excessive self activated lymphocyte-derived DNA (ALD-DNA) could induce systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) disease, indicating that overload of self-DNA might exceed normal clearance ability and comprise the major source of autoantigens in lupus mice. Serum amyloid P component (SAP), an acute-phase serum protein with binding reactivity to DNA in mice, was proved to promote the clearance of free DNA and prevent mice against self-antigen induced autoimmune response. It is reasonable to hypothesize that SAP treatment might contribute to alleviation of SLE disease, whereas its role in ALD-DNA-induced lupus nephritis is not fully understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The ratios of SAP to DNA significantly decreased and were negatively correlated with the titers of anti-dsDNA antibodies in ALD-DNA-induced lupus mice, indicating SAP was relatively insufficient in lupus mice. Herein a pcDNA3-SAP plasmid (pSAP) was genetically constructed and intramuscularly injected into BALB/c mice. It was found that SAP protein purified from the serum of pSAP-treated mice bound efficiently to ALD-DNA and inhibited ALD-DNA-mediated innate immune response in vitro. Treatment of ALD-DNA-induced lupus mice with pSAP in the early stage of SLE disease with the onset of proteinuria reversed lupus nephritis via decreasing anti-dsDNA autoantibody production and immune complex (IC) deposition. Further administration of pSAP in the late stage of SLE disease that had established lupus nephritis alleviated proteinuria and ameliorated lupus nephritis. This therapeutic effect of SAP was not only attributable to the decreased levels of anti-dsDNA autoantibodies, but also associated with the decreased infiltration of lymphocytes and the reduced production of inflammatory markers.
Conclusion/Significance
These results suggest that SAP administration could effectively alleviated lupus nephritis via modulating anti-dsDNA antibody production and the inflammation followed IC deposition, and SAP-based intervening strategy may provide new approaches for treating SLE disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022659
PMCID: PMC3143173  PMID: 21799927
11.  Admixture Mapping in Lupus Identifies Multiple Functional Variants within IFIH1 Associated with Apoptosis, Inflammation, and Autoantibody Production 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003222.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component. African-Americans (AA) are at increased risk of SLE, but the genetic basis of this risk is largely unknown. To identify causal variants in SLE loci in AA, we performed admixture mapping followed by fine mapping in AA and European-Americans (EA). Through genome-wide admixture mapping in AA, we identified a strong SLE susceptibility locus at 2q22–24 (LOD = 6.28), and the admixture signal is associated with the European ancestry (ancestry risk ratio ∼1.5). Large-scale genotypic analysis on 19,726 individuals of African and European ancestry revealed three independently associated variants in the IFIH1 gene: an intronic variant, rs13023380 [Pmeta = 5.20×10−14; odds ratio, 95% confidence interval = 0.82 (0.78–0.87)], and two missense variants, rs1990760 (Ala946Thr) [Pmeta = 3.08×10−7; 0.88 (0.84–0.93)] and rs10930046 (Arg460His) [Pdom = 1.16×10−8; 0.70 (0.62–0.79)]. Both missense variants produced dramatic phenotypic changes in apoptosis and inflammation-related gene expression. We experimentally validated function of the intronic SNP by DNA electrophoresis, protein identification, and in vitro protein binding assays. DNA carrying the intronic risk allele rs13023380 showed reduced binding efficiency to a cellular protein complex including nucleolin and lupus autoantigen Ku70/80, and showed reduced transcriptional activity in vivo. Thus, in SLE patients, genetic susceptibility could create a biochemical imbalance that dysregulates nucleolin, Ku70/80, or other nucleic acid regulatory proteins. This could promote antibody hypermutation and auto-antibody generation, further destabilizing the cellular network. Together with molecular modeling, our results establish a distinct role for IFIH1 in apoptosis, inflammation, and autoantibody production, and explain the molecular basis of these three risk alleles for SLE pathogenesis.
Author Summary
African-Americans (AA) are at increased risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the genetic basis of this risk increase is largely unknown. We used admixture mapping to localize disease-causing genetic variants that differ in frequency across populations. This approach is advantageous for localizing susceptibility genes in recently admixed populations like AA. Our genome-wide admixture scan identified seven admixture signals, and we followed the best signal at 2q22–24 with fine-mapping, imputation-based association analysis and experimental validation. We identified two independent coding variants and a non-coding variant within the IFIH1 gene associated with SLE. Together with molecular modeling, our results establish a distinct role for IFIH1 in apoptosis, inflammation, and autoantibody production, and explain the molecular basis of these three risk alleles for SLE pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003222
PMCID: PMC3575474  PMID: 23441136
12.  Redox Proteomics in Selected Neurodegenerative Disorders: From Its Infancy to Future Applications 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2012;17(11):1610-1655.
Abstract
Several studies demonstrated that oxidative damage is a characteristic feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. The accumulation of oxidatively modified proteins may disrupt cellular functions by affecting protein expression, protein turnover, cell signaling, and induction of apoptosis and necrosis, suggesting that protein oxidation could have both physiological and pathological significance. For nearly two decades, our laboratory focused particular attention on studying oxidative damage of proteins and how their chemical modifications induced by reactive oxygen species/reactive nitrogen species correlate with pathology, biochemical alterations, and clinical presentations of Alzheimer's disease. This comprehensive article outlines basic knowledge of oxidative modification of proteins and lipids, followed by the principles of redox proteomics analysis, which also involve recent advances of mass spectrometry technology, and its application to selected age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Redox proteomics results obtained in different diseases and animal models thereof may provide new insights into the main mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis and progression of oxidative-stress-related neurodegenerative disorders. Redox proteomics can be considered a multifaceted approach that has the potential to provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of a disease, to find disease markers, as well as to identify potential targets for drug therapy. Considering the importance of a better understanding of the cause/effect of protein dysfunction in the pathogenesis and progression of neurodegenerative disorders, this article provides an overview of the intrinsic power of the redox proteomics approach together with the most significant results obtained by our laboratory and others during almost 10 years of research on neurodegenerative disorders since we initiated the field of redox proteomics. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 17, 1610–1655.
I. Introduction
II. Protein (/Lipid) Oxidation and Protein Dysfunction
A. Protein carbonyls
B. Protein nitration
1. Peroxynitrite (ONOO−)
2. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
C. HNE adduction to proteins
D. Importance of clearance and detoxification systems
1. The proteasome, parkin, ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase-L1, and HSPs
2. Superoxide dismutase
3. Catalase
4. Peroxiredoxins
5. Trx and Trx reductase
6. Glutathione reductase
7. Vitamins in neurodegeneration
8. Involvement of iron in neurodegeneration
E. Role of iron in neurodegeneration
1. Fe homeostasis in AD
2. Fe homeostasis in PD
3. Fe homeostasis in ALS
4. Fe homeostasis in HD
F. Some known consequences of protein oxidation
III. Overview of Redox Proteomics
A. Global, gel-based approaches
B. Targeted, gel-free approach
1. Enrichment of PCO modified proteins
2. Enrichment of HNE modified proteins
3. Enrichment of 3-NT modified proteins
IV. Application of Redox Proteomics to Selected Neurodegenerative Disorders
A. Alzheimer's disease
1. PCO in AD
2. Identification of carbonylated proteins in brain of subjects with AD
a. Sample: the brain
b. Energy dysfunction
c. Excitotoxicity
d. Proteosomal dysfunction
e. Neuritic abnormalities
f. APP regulation, tau hyperphosphorylation, and cell cycle regulation
g. Synaptic abnormalities and LTP
h. pH maintenance
i. Mitochondrial abnormalities
3. Carbonylated proteins in brain of subjects with amnestic MCI
4. EAD carbonylated proteins
5. PCAD vs. amnestic MCI protein carbonylation in brain
6. Protein-bound HNE in brain and progression of Alzheimer's disease
7. Protein-bound 3-NT in brain and progression of Alzheimer's disease
8. Nitrated brain proteins in MCI
9. Nitrated proteins in EAD
B. Parkinson disease
1. Redox proteomics in PD
C. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
1. Redox proteomics studies in ALS transgenic mice
D. Huntington disease
1. Redox proteomics-transgenic mouse model of HD
2. Proteomics of HD brain
E. Down syndrome
1. Redox proteomics in DS transgenic mice
V. Conclusions and Future Directions
doi:10.1089/ars.2011.4109
PMCID: PMC3448942  PMID: 22115501
13.  Differences in Long-Term Disease Activity and Treatment of Adult Patients With Childhood-and Adult-Onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(1):13-20.
Objective
To compare differences in long-term outcome between adults with childhood-onset (age at diagnosis <18 years) systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and with adult-onset SLE.
Methods
Data were derived from the University of California Lupus Outcomes Study, a longitudinal cohort of 885 adult subjects with SLE (90 childhood-onset [cSLE], 795 adult-onset [aSLE]). Baseline and 1-year followup data were obtained via structured 1-hour telephone interviews conducted between 2002 and 2006. Using self-report data, differences in organ involvement and disease morbidity, current disease status and activity, past and current medication use, and number of physician visits were compared, based on age at diagnosis of SLE.
Results
Average disease duration for the cSLE and aSLE subgroups was 16.5 and 13.4 years, respectively, and mean age at followup was 30.5 and 49.9 years, respectively. When compared with aSLE subjects, cSLE subjects had a higher frequency of SLE-related renal disease, whereas aSLE subjects were more likely to report a history of pulmonary disease. Rates of clotting disorders, seizures, and myocardial infarction were similar between the 2 groups. At followup, cSLE subjects had lower overall disease activity, but were more likely to be taking steroids and other immunosuppressive therapies. The total number of yearly physician visits was similar between the 2 groups, although cSLE subjects had a higher number of nephrology visits.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates important differences in the outcomes of patients with cSLE and aSLE, and provides important prognostic information about long-term SLE disease activity and treatment.
doi:10.1002/art.24091
PMCID: PMC2875186  PMID: 19116979
14.  Time to Renal Disease and End-Stage Renal Disease in PROFILE: A Multiethnic Lupus Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e396.
Background
Renal involvement is a serious manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); it may portend a poor prognosis as it may lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The purpose of this study was to determine the factors predicting the development of renal involvement and its progression to ESRD in a multi-ethnic SLE cohort (PROFILE).
Methods and Findings
PROFILE includes SLE patients from five different United States institutions. We examined at baseline the socioeconomic–demographic, clinical, and genetic variables associated with the development of renal involvement and its progression to ESRD by univariable and multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analyses. Analyses of onset of renal involvement included only patients with renal involvement after SLE diagnosis (n = 229). Analyses of ESRD included all patients, regardless of whether renal involvement occurred before, at, or after SLE diagnosis (34 of 438 patients). In addition, we performed a multivariable logistic regression analysis of the variables associated with the development of renal involvement at any time during the course of SLE.
In the time-dependent multivariable analysis, patients developing renal involvement were more likely to have more American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE, and to be younger, hypertensive, and of African-American or Hispanic (from Texas) ethnicity. Alternative regression models were consistent with these results. In addition to greater accrued disease damage (renal damage excluded), younger age, and Hispanic ethnicity (from Texas), homozygosity for the valine allele of FcγRIIIa (FCGR3A*GG) was a significant predictor of ESRD. Results from the multivariable logistic regression model that included all cases of renal involvement were consistent with those from the Cox model.
Conclusions
Fcγ receptor genotype is a risk factor for progression of renal disease to ESRD. Since the frequency distribution of FCGR3A alleles does not vary significantly among the ethnic groups studied, the additional factors underlying the ethnic disparities in renal disease progression remain to be elucidated.
Fcγ receptor genotype is a risk factor for progression of renal disease to ESRD but does not explain the ethnic disparities in renal disease progression.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE, commonly known as “lupus”) is an illness of many manifestations that appear to result from the immune system attacking components of the body's own cells. One of the unfortunate effects of SLE is kidney damage, which can, in a minority of patients, progress to kidney failure (formally called “end-stage renal disease,” or ESRD). Compared to White Americans, other ethnic groups tend to develop renal complications of lupus more often and with worse outcomes.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear why some people with lupus develop kidney problems. The purpose of this US-based study was to confirm the factors that increase the risk of kidney damage and kidney failure, particularly in racial and ethnic minority patients, and to determine which of these factors accelerate the pace of kidney disease. Knowing these risk factors could allow the development and targeting of interventions, such as screening tests and preventive treatments, to prevent long-term loss of kidney function in patients with lupus.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured a number of factors in a multi-ethnic group of 1,008 patients with lupus, almost half of whom had some degree of kidney involvement. They found that those who developed kidney damage after being diagnosed with lupus tended to be younger, to have had lupus for a longer time, and to have experienced more effects of lupus in general than those who did not have kidney involvement. Those who developed kidney problems were also more likely to have been unemployed, to have had fewer years of formal education, and to have had high blood pressure before developing kidney involvement. African-American and Texan Hispanic individuals with lupus were more likely to develop kidney involvement, and tended to develop it more rapidly, than White Americans or Puerto Rican Hispanic ethnicity. Actual kidney failure (ESRD requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation) was more likely to occur among Texan Hispanics with kidney involvement than in the other ethnic groups. Diabetes and high blood pressure were not found to predict ESRD, but people with a particular variant of a protein that helps antibodies bind to cells (know as Fc-gamma receptor IIIa, or FcγRIIIa) were found to be more likely to develop ESRD, and to develop it more quickly.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that the emergence and progression of kidney disease in patients with lupus depends on medical, genetic, and socioeconomic factors. Because no single test or intervention can be expected to address all of these factors, those treating patients with lupus must remain aware of the complexity of their patients lives at a variety of levels. In particular, ethnic disparities in the risk of serious kidney disease remain to be addressed.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030396.
MedlinePlus page on lupus
Lupus Foundation of America
American College of Rheumatology pages on lupus
Wikipedia entry on lupus (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030396
PMCID: PMC1626549  PMID: 17076550
15.  A Novel Method for Real-Time, Continuous, Fluorescence-Based Analysis of Anti-DNA Abzyme Activity in Systemic Lupus 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:814048.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the production of antibodies against a variety of self-antigens including nucleic acids. These antibodies are cytotoxic, catalytic (hydrolyzing DNA, RNA, and protein), and nephritogenic. Current methods for investigating catalytic activities of natural abzymes produced by individuals suffering from autoimmunity are mostly discontinuous and often employ hazardous reagents. Here we demonstrate the utility of dual-labeled, fluorogenic DNA hydrolysis probes in highly specific, sensitive, continuous, fluorescence-based measurement of DNA hydrolytic activity of anti-ssDNA abzymes purified from the serum of patients suffering from SLE. An assay for the presence and levels of antibodies exhibiting hydrolytic activity could facilitate disease diagnosis, prediction of flares, monitoring of disease state, and response to therapy. The assay may allow indirect identification of additional targets of anti-DNA antibodies and the discovery of molecules that inhibit their activity. Combined, these approaches may provide new insights into molecular mechanisms of lupus pathogenesis.
doi:10.1155/2012/814048
PMCID: PMC3521466  PMID: 23251791
16.  Taming lupus—a new understanding of pathogenesis is leading to clinical advances 
Nature medicine  2012;18(6):871-882.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by the loss of tolerance to nuclear self antigens, the production of pathogenic autoantibodies and damage to multiple organ systems. Over the years, patients with SLE have been managed largely with empiric immunosuppressive therapies, which are associated with substantial toxicities and do not always provide adequate control of the disease. The development of targeted therapies that specifically address disease pathogenesis or progression has lagged, largely because of the complex and heterogeneous nature of the disease, as well as difficulties in designing uniform outcome measures for clinical trials. Recent advances that could improve the treatment of SLE include the identification of genetic variations that influence the risk of developing the disease, an enhanced understanding of innate and adaptive immune activation and regulation of tolerance, dissection of immune cell activation and inflammatory pathways and elucidation of mechanisms and markers of tissue damage. These discoveries, together with improvements in clinical trial design, form a platform from which to launch the development of a new generation of lupus therapies.
doi:10.1038/nm.2752
PMCID: PMC3607103  PMID: 22674006
17.  Meta-analysis of microarray data using a pathway-based approach identifies a 37-gene expression signature for systemic lupus erythematosus in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:65.
Background
A number of publications have reported the use of microarray technology to identify gene expression signatures to infer mechanisms and pathways associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. However, meta-analysis approaches with microarray data have not been well-explored in SLE.
Methods
In this study, a pathway-based meta-analysis was applied to four independent gene expression oligonucleotide microarray data sets to identify gene expression signatures for SLE, and these data sets were confirmed by a fifth independent data set.
Results
Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in each data set by comparing expression microarray data from control samples and SLE samples. Using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis software, pathways associated with the DEGs were identified in each of the four data sets. Using the leave one data set out pathway-based meta-analysis approach, a 37-gene metasignature was identified. This SLE metasignature clearly distinguished SLE patients from controls as observed by unsupervised learning methods. The final confirmation of the metasignature was achieved by applying the metasignature to a fifth independent data set.
Conclusions
The novel pathway-based meta-analysis approach proved to be a useful technique for grouping disparate microarray data sets. This technique allowed for validated conclusions to be drawn across four different data sets and confirmed by an independent fifth data set. The metasignature and pathways identified by using this approach may serve as a source for identifying therapeutic targets for SLE and may possibly be used for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. Moreover, the meta-analysis approach provides a simple, intuitive solution for combining disparate microarray data sets to identify a strong metasignature.
Please see Research Highlight: http://genomemedicine.com/content/3/5/30
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-65
PMCID: PMC3126731  PMID: 21624134
18.  Ribosomal P Autoantibodies are Present Before SLE Onset and are Directed Against non-C Terminal Peptides 
Autoantibodies to ribosomal P are found in 15–30% of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and are highly specific for SLE. The goal of this study is to assess the temporal association of anti-ribosomal P (anti-P) responses with SLE disease onset, as well as to characterize the humoral ribosomal P (ribo P) epitopes targeted in early, pre-diagnostic SLE samples. Patients with stored serial serum samples available prior to SLE diagnosis were identified from a military cohort. Each sample was tested for antibodies against ribo P utilizing standard C-terminus ribo P ELISAs and a solid phase, bead-based assay with affinity-purified ribo P proteins. In this study, antibodies to ribo P were more common in African American SLE patients (p= 0.026), and anti-P positive patients comprised a group with more measured autoantibody specificities than did other SLE patients (3.5 vs. 2.2, p<0.05). Antibodies against ribo P were present on average 1.7 years before SLE diagnosis and were detected an average of 1.08 years earlier in pre-diagnostic SLE samples using affinity-purified whole protein rather than C- terminal peptide alone (p=0.0019). Furthermore, 61% of anti-P positive patients initially had antibodies to aa 99–113, a known ribosomal P0 antigenic target, at a time point when no antibodies to the clinically used C-terminus were detected. Our findings provide evidence that antibodies against ribosomal P frequently develop before clinical SLE diagnosis and are more broadly reactive than previously thought by targeting regions outside of the C-terminus.
doi:10.1007/s00109-010-0618-1
PMCID: PMC2877769  PMID: 20396862
lupus; antibodies; autoimmunity; ribosomal P; epitope
19.  An allelic variant of Crry in the murine Sle1c lupus susceptibility interval is not impaired in its ability to regulate complement activation1 
The Sle1c subinterval on distal murine chromosome 1 confers loss of tolerance to chromatin. Cr2, which encodes complement receptors 1 and 2 (CR1/CR2; CD35/CD21), is a strong candidate gene for lupus susceptibility within this interval based on structural and functional alterations in its protein products. Complement receptor 1 related protein/gene Y (Crry) lies 10 kb from Cr2 and encodes a ubiquitously expressed complement regulatory protein that could also play a role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Crry derived from B6.Sle1c congenic mice migrated at a higher molecular weight by SDS-PAGE compared to B6 Crry as a result of differential glycosylation. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the first short consensus repeat (SCR) of Sle1c Crry introduced a novel N-linked glycosylation site likely responsible for this structural alteration. Five additional SNPs in the signal peptide and SCR1 of Sle1c Crry were identified. However, the cellular expression of B6 and B6.Sle1c Crry and their ability to regulate the classical pathway of complement were not significantly different, and although soluble Sle1c Crry regulated the alternative pathway of complement more efficiently than B6 Crry, as a membrane protein, it regulated the alternative pathway equivalently to B6 Crry. These data fail to provide evidence for a functional effect of the structural alterations in Sle1c Crry, and suggest that the role of Cr2 in the Sle1c autoimmune phenotypes can be isolated in recombinant congenic mice containing both genes.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1000783
PMCID: PMC3073420  PMID: 20660348
20.  Association of Genetic Variants in Complement Factor H and Factor H-Related Genes with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Susceptibility 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(5):e1002079.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a complex polygenic autoimmune disease, is associated with increased complement activation. Variants of genes encoding complement regulator factor H (CFH) and five CFH-related proteins (CFHR1-CFHR5) within the chromosome 1q32 locus linked to SLE, have been associated with multiple human diseases and may contribute to dysregulated complement activation predisposing to SLE. We assessed 60 SNPs covering the CFH-CFHRs region for association with SLE in 15,864 case-control subjects derived from four ethnic groups. Significant allelic associations with SLE were detected in European Americans (EA) and African Americans (AA), which could be attributed to an intronic CFH SNP (rs6677604, in intron 11, Pmeta = 6.6×10−8, OR = 1.18) and an intergenic SNP between CFHR1 and CFHR4 (rs16840639, Pmeta = 2.9×10−7, OR = 1.17) rather than to previously identified disease-associated CFH exonic SNPs, including I62V, Y402H, A474A, and D936E. In addition, allelic association of rs6677604 with SLE was subsequently confirmed in Asians (AS). Haplotype analysis revealed that the underlying causal variant, tagged by rs6677604 and rs16840639, was localized to a ∼146 kb block extending from intron 9 of CFH to downstream of CFHR1. Within this block, the deletion of CFHR3 and CFHR1 (CFHR3-1Δ), a likely causal variant measured using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, was tagged by rs6677604 in EA and AS and rs16840639 in AA, respectively. Deduced from genotypic associations of tag SNPs in EA, AA, and AS, homozygous deletion of CFHR3-1Δ (Pmeta = 3.2×10−7, OR = 1.47) conferred a higher risk of SLE than heterozygous deletion (Pmeta = 3.5×10−4, OR = 1.14). These results suggested that the CFHR3-1Δ deletion within the SLE-associated block, but not the previously described exonic SNPs of CFH, might contribute to the development of SLE in EA, AA, and AS, providing new insights into the role of complement regulators in the pathogenesis of SLE.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease, associated with increased complement activation. Previous studies have provided evidence for the presence of SLE susceptibility gene(s) in the chromosome 1q31-32 locus. Within 1q32, genes encoding complement regulator factor H (CFH) and five CFH-related proteins (CFHR1-CFHR5) may contribute to the development of SLE, because genetic variants of these genes impair complement regulation and predispose to various human diseases. In this study, we tested association of genetic variants in the region containing CFH and CFHRs with SLE. We identified genetic variants predisposing to SLE in European American, African American, and Asian populations, which might be attributed to the deletion of CFHR3 and CFHR1 genes but not previously identified disease-associated exonic variants of CFH. This study provides the first evidence for consistent association between CFH/CFHRs and SLE across multi-ancestral SLE datasets, providing new insights into the role of complement regulators in the pathogenesis of SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002079
PMCID: PMC3102741  PMID: 21637784
21.  Computational Biomarker Pipeline from Discovery to Clinical Implementation: Plasma Proteomic Biomarkers for Cardiac Transplantation 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(4):e1002963.
Recent technical advances in the field of quantitative proteomics have stimulated a large number of biomarker discovery studies of various diseases, providing avenues for new treatments and diagnostics. However, inherent challenges have limited the successful translation of candidate biomarkers into clinical use, thus highlighting the need for a robust analytical methodology to transition from biomarker discovery to clinical implementation. We have developed an end-to-end computational proteomic pipeline for biomarkers studies. At the discovery stage, the pipeline emphasizes different aspects of experimental design, appropriate statistical methodologies, and quality assessment of results. At the validation stage, the pipeline focuses on the migration of the results to a platform appropriate for external validation, and the development of a classifier score based on corroborated protein biomarkers. At the last stage towards clinical implementation, the main aims are to develop and validate an assay suitable for clinical deployment, and to calibrate the biomarker classifier using the developed assay. The proposed pipeline was applied to a biomarker study in cardiac transplantation aimed at developing a minimally invasive clinical test to monitor acute rejection. Starting with an untargeted screening of the human plasma proteome, five candidate biomarker proteins were identified. Rejection-regulated proteins reflect cellular and humoral immune responses, acute phase inflammatory pathways, and lipid metabolism biological processes. A multiplex multiple reaction monitoring mass-spectrometry (MRM-MS) assay was developed for the five candidate biomarkers and validated by enzyme-linked immune-sorbent (ELISA) and immunonephelometric assays (INA). A classifier score based on corroborated proteins demonstrated that the developed MRM-MS assay provides an appropriate methodology for an external validation, which is still in progress. Plasma proteomic biomarkers of acute cardiac rejection may offer a relevant post-transplant monitoring tool to effectively guide clinical care. The proposed computational pipeline is highly applicable to a wide range of biomarker proteomic studies.
Author Summary
Novel proteomic technology has led to the generation of vast amounts of biological data and the identification of numerous potential biomarkers. However, computational approaches to translate this information into knowledge capable of impacting clinical care have been lagging. We propose a computational proteomic pipeline for biomarker studies that is founded on the combination of advanced statistical methodologies. We demonstrate our approach through the analysis of data obtained from heart transplant patients. Heart transplantation is the gold standard treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure, but is complicated by episodes of immune rejection that can adversely impact patient outcomes. Current rejection monitoring approaches are highly invasive, requiring a biopsy of the heart. This work aims to reduce the need for biopsies, and demonstrate the power and utility of computational approaches in proteomic biomarker discovery. Our work utilizes novel high-throughput proteomic technology combined with advanced statistical techniques to identify blood markers that guide the decision as to whether a biopsy is warranted, reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies, and ultimately diagnose the presence of rejection in heart transplant patients. Additionally, the proposed computational methodologies can be applied to a range of proteomic biomarker studies of various diseases and conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002963
PMCID: PMC3617196  PMID: 23592955
22.  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
23.  Gene Network Analysis of Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells Reveals Activation of Multiple Kinase Pathways in Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13351.
Background
Gene profiling studies provide important information for key molecules relevant to a disease but are less informative of protein-protein interactions, post-translational modifications and regulation by targeted subcellular localization. Integration of genomic data and construction of functional gene networks may provide additional insights into complex diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed gene expression microarray data of bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMCs) from 20 SLE patients (11 with active disease) and 10 controls. Gene networks were constructed using the bioinformatic tool Ingenuity Gene Network Analysis. In SLE patients, comparative analysis of BMMCs genes revealed a network with 19 central nodes as major gene regulators including ERK, JNK, and p38 MAP kinases, insulin, Ca2+ and STAT3. Comparison between active versus inactive SLE identified 30 central nodes associated with immune response, protein synthesis, and post-transcriptional modification. A high degree of identity between networks in active SLE and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) patients was found, with overlapping central nodes including kinases (MAPK, ERK, JNK, PKC), transcription factors (NF-kappaB, STAT3), and insulin. In validation studies, western blot analysis in splenic B cells from 5-month-old NZB/NZW F1 lupus mice showed activation of STAT3, ITGB2, HSPB1, ERK, JNK, p38, and p32 kinases, and downregulation of FOXO3 and VDR compared to normal C57Bl/6 mice.
Conclusions/Significance
Gene network analysis of lupus BMMCs identified central gene regulators implicated in disease pathogenesis which could represent targets of novel therapies in human SLE. The high similarity between active SLE and NHL networks provides a molecular basis for the reported association of the former with lymphoid malignancies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013351
PMCID: PMC2954787  PMID: 20976278
24.  Absolute quantification of microbial proteomes at different states by directed mass spectrometry 
The developed, directed mass spectrometry workflow allows to generate consistent and system-wide quantitative maps of microbial proteomes in a single analysis. Application to the human pathogen L. interrogans revealed mechanistic proteome changes over time involved in pathogenic progression and antibiotic defense, and new insights about the regulation of absolute protein abundances within operons.
The developed, directed proteomic approach allowed consistent detection and absolute quantification of 1680 proteins of the human pathogen L. interrogans in a single LC–MS/MS experiment.The comparison of 25 extensive, consistent and quantitative proteome maps revealed new insights about the proteome changes involved in pathogenic progression and antibiotic defense of L. interrogans, and about the regulation of protein abundances within operons.The generated time-resolved data sets are compatible with pattern analysis algorithms developed for transcriptomics, including hierarchical clustering and functional enrichment analysis of the detected profile clusters.This is the first study that describes the absolute quantitative behavior of any proteome over multiple states and represents the most comprehensive proteome abundance pattern comparison for any organism to date.
Over the last decade, mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics has evolved as the method of choice for system-wide proteome studies and now allows for the characterization of several thousands of proteins in a single sample. Despite these great advances, redundant monitoring of protein levels over large sample numbers in a high-throughput manner remains a challenging task. New directed MS strategies have shown to overcome some of the current limitations, thereby enabling the acquisition of consistent and system-wide data sets of proteomes with low-to-moderate complexity at high throughput.
In this study, we applied this integrated, two-stage MS strategy to investigate global proteome changes in the human pathogen L. interrogans. In the initial discovery phase, 1680 proteins (out of around 3600 gene products) could be identified (Schmidt et al, 2008) and, by focusing precious MS-sequencing time on the most dominant, specific peptides per protein, all proteins could be accurately and consistently monitored over 25 different samples within a few days of instrument time in the following scoring phase (Figure 1). Additionally, the co-analysis of heavy reference peptides enabled us to obtain absolute protein concentration estimates for all identified proteins in each perturbation (Malmström et al, 2009). The detected proteins did not show any biases against functional groups or protein classes, including membrane proteins, and span an abundance range of more than three orders of magnitude, a range that is expected to cover most of the L. interrogans proteome (Malmström et al, 2009).
To elucidate mechanistic proteome changes over time involved in pathogenic progression and antibiotic defense of L. interrogans, we generated time-resolved proteome maps of cells perturbed with serum and three different antibiotics at sublethal concentrations that are currently used to treat Leptospirosis. This yielded an information-rich proteomic data set that describes, for the first time, the absolute quantitative behavior of any proteome over multiple states, and represents the most comprehensive proteome abundance pattern comparison for any organism to date. Using this unique property of the data set, we could quantify protein components of entire pathways across several time points and subject the data sets to cluster analysis, a tool that was previously limited to the transcript level due to incomplete sampling on protein level (Figure 4). Based on these analyses, we could demonstrate that Leptospira cells adjust the cellular abundance of a certain subset of proteins and pathways as a general response to stress while other parts of the proteome respond highly specific. The cells furthermore react to individual treatments by ‘fine tuning' the abundance of certain proteins and pathways in order to cope with the specific cause of stress. Intriguingly, the most specific and significant expression changes were observed for proteins involved in motility, tissue penetration and virulence after serum treatment where we tried to simulate the host environment. While many of the detected protein changes demonstrate good agreement with available transcriptomics data, most proteins showed a poor correlation. This includes potential virulence factors, like Loa22 or OmpL1, with confirmed expression in vivo that were significantly up-regulated on the protein level, but not on the mRNA level, strengthening the importance of proteomic studies. The high resolution and coverage of the proteome data set enabled us to further investigate protein abundance changes of co-regulated genes within operons. This suggests that although most proteins within an operon respond to regulation synchronously, bacterial cells seem to have subtle means to adjust the levels of individual proteins or protein groups outside of the general trend, a phenomena that was recently also observed on the transcript level of other bacteria (Güell et al, 2009).
The method can be implemented with standard high-resolution mass spectrometers and software tools that are readily available in the majority of proteomics laboratories. It is scalable to any proteome of low-to-medium complexity and can be extended to post-translational modifications or peptide-labeling strategies for quantification. We therefore expect the approach outlined here to become a cornerstone for microbial systems biology.
Over the past decade, liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) has evolved into the main proteome discovery technology. Up to several thousand proteins can now be reliably identified from a sample and the relative abundance of the identified proteins can be determined across samples. However, the remeasurement of substantially similar proteomes, for example those generated by perturbation experiments in systems biology, at high reproducibility and throughput remains challenging. Here, we apply a directed MS strategy to detect and quantify sets of pre-determined peptides in tryptic digests of cells of the human pathogen Leptospira interrogans at 25 different states. We show that in a single LC–MS/MS experiment around 5000 peptides, covering 1680 L. interrogans proteins, can be consistently detected and their absolute expression levels estimated, revealing new insights about the proteome changes involved in pathogenic progression and antibiotic defense of L. interrogans. This is the first study that describes the absolute quantitative behavior of any proteome over multiple states, and represents the most comprehensive proteome abundance pattern comparison for any organism to date.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.37
PMCID: PMC3159967  PMID: 21772258
absolute quantification; directed mass spectrometry; Leptospira interrogans; microbiology; proteomics
25.  Monogenic forms of systemic lupus erythematosus: new insights into SLE pathogenesis 
The pathogenesis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is complex and remains poorly understood. Infectious triggers, genetic background, immunological abnormalities and environmental factors are all supposed to interact for the disease development. Familial SLE as well as early-onset juvenile SLE studies make it possible to identify monogenic causes of SLE. Identification of these rare inherited conditions is of great interest to understand both SLE pathogenesis and molecular human tolerance mechanisms. Complement deficiencies, genetic overproduction of interferon-α and apoptosis defects are the main situations that can lead to monogenic SLE.
Here, we review the different genes involved in monogenic SLE and highlight their importance in SLE pathogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1546-0096-10-21
PMCID: PMC3489560  PMID: 22883345
SLE genetics; Mendelian; Complement deficiency; Interferon-alpha; Pediatrics

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