A haplotype of the interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene has been associated with the risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and our previous studies have demonstrated that high levels of serum interferon-α (IFNα) activity are a heritable risk factor for SLE. The aim of this study was to determine whether the IRF5 SLE risk haplotype mediates the risk of SLE by predisposing patients to the development of high levels of serum IFNα activity.
IFNα levels in 199 SLE patients of European and Hispanic ancestry were measured with a sensitive functional reporter cell assay. The rs2004640, rs3807306, rs10488631, and rs2280714 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IRF5 were genotyped in these patients. Haplotypes were categorized as SLE risk, neutral, or protective based on published data.
SLE patients with risk/risk and risk/neutral IRF5 genotypes had higher serum IFNα activity than did those with protective/protective and neutral/protective genotypes (P = 0.025). This differential effect of IRF5 genotype on serum IFNα levels was driven largely by SLE patients who were positive for either anti–RNA binding protein (anti-RBP) or anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) autoantibodies (P = 0.012 for risk/risk or risk/neutral versus protective/protective or neutral/protective). The rs3807306 genotype was independently associated with high serum IFNα in this autoantibody group. We found no difference in IFNα activity according to IRF5 genotype in patients lacking either type of autoantibody or in patients positive for both classes of autoantibody.
The IRF5 SLE risk haplotype is associated with higher serum IFNα activity in SLE patients, and this effect is most prominent in patients positive for either anti-RBP or anti-dsDNA autoantibodies. This study demonstrates the biologic relevance of the SLE risk haplotype of IRF5 at the protein level.
Cardiovascular disease risk is increased in individuals suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Understanding the mechanism(s) of SLE-accelerated atherosclerosis is critical for the development of effective therapies. Our laboratory previously demonstrated that radiation chimeras of SLE-susceptible B6.Sle1.2.3 and low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLr)−/−mice have augmented atherosclerosis which is associated with increased T cell burden and activation in the lesion. The goals of this study were to further define specific immune mechanisms mediating accelerated atherosclerosis and to determine whether the gene interval Sle3, which is linked to lupus-associated T cell dysregulation, was sufficient to modulate atherogenesis. We transferred B6.Sle3 or C57Bl/6-derived bone marrow cells into lethally irradiated LDLr−/− mice (hereafter referred to as LDLr.Sle3 and LDLr.B6, respectively). Sixteen weeks after transplantation, the mice were placed on a Western-type diet for 8 weeks. Our analyses revealed that LDLr.Sle3 mice had increased auto-antibody production against dsDNA and cardiolipin compared to LDLr.B6 controls. We also found an increase in atherosclerosis associated oxLDL antibodies. Antibody isotypes and serum cytokine analysis suggested that the humoral immune response in LDLr.Sle mice was skewed toward a Th2 phenotype. This is consistent with lupus-associated immune dysregulation. Additionally, LDLr.Sle3 mice had decreased serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, there was no difference in lesion area or cellular composition of lesions between the two groups. These data demonstrate that, despite no changes in lesion area, transfer of Sle3-associated T cell dysregulation alone to LDLr-deficient mice is sufficient to decrease serum cholesterol and to exacerbate humoral immune responses that are frequently associated with atherosclerosis.
systemic lupus erythematosus; atherosclerosis; autoimmunity; T cell; oxidized LDL
The 129-derived Sle16 is a susceptibility locus for systemic autoimmunity when present on the C57BL/6 (B6) background. Genetic analysis of a (129×B6)F2 cross identified a region from the B6 chromosome 3 (Sle18) with positive linkage to anti-nuclear antibodies. Here we have generated a B6 congenic strain harbouring the 129 allele of Sle18 and intercrossed this line with the lupus-prone B6.129-Sle16 strain. The presence of the 129-Sle18 allele in the B6.129-Sle16Sle18 double congenic mice suppressed the development of Sle16-mediated autoantibody production and ameliorated the renal pathology. The 129-Sle18 locus rectified the B cell abnormalities detected in the B6.129-Sle16 mice, such as the reduction in the percentage of marginal zone B and B1a cells and the increased number of germinal centers. The B6.129-Sle16Sle18 spleens still displayed an increased percentage of activated T and B cells. However, in the B6.129-Sle16Sle18 strain the percentage of naïve T cells was equivalent to that in B6.129-Sle18 and B6 mice and these cells showed a reduced proliferative response to anti-CD3 stimulation compared to B6.129-Sle16 T cells. There was a significant increase in the percentage of CD4+FoxP3+regulatory T cells in all congenic strains. These cells had normal regulatory function when tested in vitro. Thus 129-Sle18 represents a novel, non-MHC lupus-suppressor locus probably operating as a functional modifier of B cells that, in combination with other factors, leads to lupus resistance. Further characterisation of this locus will help to uncover the immune mechanism(s) conferring protection against lupus.
systemic lupus erythematosus; autoantibodies; rodent; congenic
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
The major risk factor for developing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is being female. The present study utilized gene profiles of activated T cells from females with SLE and healthy controls to identify signaling pathways uniquely regulated by estradiol that could contribute to SLE pathogenesis. Selected downstream pathway genes (+/− estradiol) were measured by real time polymerase chain amplification. Estradiol uniquely upregulated six pathways in SLE T cells that control T cell function including interferon-α signaling. Measurement of interferon-α pathway target gene expression revealed significant differences (p = 0.043) in DRIP150 (+/− estradiol) in SLE T cell samples while IFIT1 expression was bimodal and correlated moderately (r = 0.55) with disease activity. The results indicate that estradiol alters signaling pathways in activated SLE T cells that control T cell function. Differential expression of transcriptional coactivators could influence estrogen-dependent gene regulation in T cell signaling and contribute to SLE onset and disease pathogenesis.
SLE; estradiol; interferon-α; T cell signaling; microarray
Infection imposes a serious burden on patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The increased infection rate in SLE patients has been attributed in part to defects of immune defence. Recently, the lectin pathway of complement activation has also been suggested to play a role in the occurrence of infections in SLE. In previous studies, SLE patients homozygous for mannose-binding lectin (MBL) variant alleles were at an increased risk of acquiring serious infections in comparison with patients who were heterozygous or homozygous for the normal allele. This association suggests a correlation between functional MBL level and occurrence of infections in SLE patients. We therefore investigated the biological activity of MBL and its relationship with the occurrence of infections in patients with SLE. Demographic and clinical data were collected in 103 patients with SLE. Functional MBL serum levels and MBL-induced C4 deposition were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using mannan as coat and an MBL- or C4b-specific monoclonal antibody. The complete MBL-dependent pathway activity was determined by using an assay that measures the complete MBL pathway activity in serum, starting with binding of MBL to mannan, and was detected with a specific monoclonal antibody against C5b-9. Charts were systematically reviewed to obtain information on documented infections since diagnosis of SLE. Major infections were defined as infections requiring hospital admission and intravenous administration of antibiotics. In total, 115 infections since diagnosis of lupus, including 42 major infections, were documented in the 103 SLE patients (mean age 41 ± 13 years, mean disease duration 7 ± 4 years). The percentage of SLE patients with severe MBL deficiency was similar to that in 100 healthy controls: 13% versus 14%, respectively. Although deposition of C4 to mannan and MBL pathway activity were reduced in 21% and 43% of 103 SLE patients, respectively, neither functional MBL serum levels nor MBL pathway activity was associated with infections or major infections in regression analyses. In conclusion, SLE patients frequently suffer from infections, but deficiency of functional MBL does not confer additional risk.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterised by dysregulation of autoreactive lymphocytes and antigen‐presenting cells. Signalling through Toll‐like receptor 9 (TLR9), a mediator of innate immune responses, has a role in activation of dendritic cells and autoreactive B cells.
To investigate whether TLR9 polymorphisms are associated with an increased risk of SLE.
DNA samples were obtained from 220 Japanese patients with SLE (with >4 American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE) and 203 controls. The genetic variations of TLR9 were detected by PCR, followed by DNA sequencing. The promoter and enhancer activities of TLR9 were measured by luciferase reporter gene assay. The titres of anti‐dsDNA antibodies in sera from control or TLR9‐deficient mice were analysed by ELISA.
The G allele at position +1174 (located in intron 1 of TLR9) is closely associated with an increased risk of SLE (p = 0.029). Furthermore, patients with SLE tend to have C allele at position −1486 (p = 0.11). Both alleles down regulate TLR9 expression by reporter gene assay. TLR9‐deficient mice under a C57BL/6 background possess higher titres of anti‐dsDNA serum antibodies than control C57BL/6 mice.
These results indicate that the presence of the G allele at position +1174 of TLR9 predisposes humans to an increased risk of SLE. It is speculated that TLR9 normally prevents the development of human SLE.
The development of lupus pathogenesis results from the integration of susceptibility and resistance genes. We have used a chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) model to characterize a suppressive locus at the telomeric end of the NZM2410-derived Sle2 susceptibility locus, which we named Sle2c2. cGVHD is induced normally in Sle2c2-expressing mice, but it is not sustained. The analysis of mixed bone marrow chimeras revealed that cGVHD resistance was eliminated by non-B non-T hematopoietic cells expressing the B6 allele, suggesting that resistance is mediated by this same cell type. Furthermore, Sle2c2 expression was associated with an increased number and activation of the CD11b+ GR-1+ subset of granulocytes before and in the early stage of cGVHD induction. We have mapped the Sle2c2 critical interval to a 6-Mb region that contains the Cfs3r gene, which encodes for the G-CSFR, and its NZM2410 allele carries a nonsynonymous mutation. The G-CSFR–G-CSF pathway has been previously implicated in the regulation of GVHD, and our functional data on Sle2c2 suppression suggest a novel regulation of T cell-induced systemic autoimmunity through myeloid-derived suppressor cells. The validation of Csf3r as the causative gene for Sle2c2 and the further characterization of the Sle2c2 MDSCs promise to unveil new mechanisms by which lupus pathogenesis is regulated.
Increased IFN-α signaling is a primary pathogenic factor in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). STAT4 is a transcription factor that is activated by IFN-α signaling, and genetic variation of STAT4 has been associated with risk of SLE and rheumatoid arthritis. We measured serum IFN-α activity and simultaneous IFN-α-induced gene expression in PBMC in a large SLE cohort. The risk variant of STAT4 (T allele; rs7574865) was simultaneously associated with both lower serum IFN-α activity and greater IFN-α-induced gene expression in PBMC in SLE patients in vivo. Regression analyses confirmed that the risk allele of STAT4 was associated with increased sensitivity to IFN-α signaling. The IFN regulatory factor 5 SLE risk genotype was associated with higher serum IFN-α activity; however, STAT4 showed dominant influence on the sensitivity of PBMC to serum IFN-α. These data provide biologic relevance for the risk variant of STAT4 in the IFN-α pathway in vivo.
Methods: Codon 54 MBL gene polymorphism of 147 patients with SLE and 160 healthy controls was determined by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism. Serum concentration of MBL was measured by enzyme immunoassay. Fluctuations of serum MBL were analysed with respect to disease characteristics and activity.
Results: Frequency of homozygosity for codon 54 minority allele was 6% (9/147) in patients with SLE, and significantly higher than in controls (p = 0.0294, Fisher's exact test). MBL polymorphism in patients with SLE was not significantly associated with disease characteristics or immunological phenotypes. Patients homozygous for the B allele tended to have a higher risk of infection during treatment. Levels of C3 and CH50 were slightly, but significantly, associated with serum MBL concentration in patients with SLE homozygous for the majority allele. During the course of SLE, serum MBL concentration increased in 6/14 patients, and decreased in 7 after initiation of immunosuppressive treatment.
Conclusions: MBL gene polymorphism influences susceptibility to SLE, but has no direct effect on disease characteristics. Serum MBL levels fluctuate during the course of SLE in individual patients. MBL genotyping may be useful in assessing the risk of infection during treatment of SLE.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is increasingly recognized as a risk factor for the development of premature atherosclerosis. The inflammatory process in both of these diseases is controlled by a variety of cell types of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Recent studies from several groups, including ours, have revealed a critical role of a unique subset of lymphocytes, termed invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, in the development of lupus-like autoimmunity and atherosclerosis in animal models. iNKT cells appear to play complex and divergent roles in the development of SLE and atherosclerosis. Our findings suggest that alterations in iNKT cell functions during the development of SLE may be related to the increased risk of SLE patients to develop atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. We found that iNKT cell activation with the sponge-derived glycolipid α-galactosylceramide generally protects against the development of lupus-like autoimmunity in mice, whereas it exacerbates atherosclerosis. Therefore, while our studies have identified iNKT cells as potential therapeutic targets for SLE, further studies are necessary to design drugs that will avoid the underlying harmful effects of iNKT cell activation on the development of atherosclerosis.
α-Galactosylceramide; Atherosclerosis; CD1d; Glycolipids; Immunomodulation; Immunotherapy; Invariant natural killer T cells; Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex multi-system autoimmune disease. Vitamin D deficiency has been proposed as an environmental trigger of disease onset and as a contributor to increased SLE activity. SLE patients are prone to develop vitamin D deficiency because of photosensitivity leading to sun avoidance and other sun protective measures. The impact of vitamin D on immune function previously seen in vitro and in cross-sectional studies has now been shown in prospective human studies, strengthening the evidence that there is a connection between SLE and vitamin D status. This review describes the role of vitamin D on immune function, prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with SLE, identify risk factors for deficiency, describe the consequences of deficiency in SLE patients, and review current vitamin D recommendations for patients with SLE.
systemic lupus erythematosus; vitamin D; autoimmune disease; review
Monocytes exposed to serum from SLE patients promote B cell differentiation to IgG and IgA plasmablasts dependent on BAFF and IL-10 or APRIL, respectively.
The development of autoantibodies is a hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE serum can induce monocyte differentiation into dendritic cells (DCs) in a type I IFN–dependent manner. Such SLE-DCs activate T cells, but whether they promote B cell responses is not known. In this study, we demonstrate that SLE-DCs can efficiently stimulate naive and memory B cells to differentiate into IgG- and IgA-plasmablasts (PBs) resembling those found in the blood of SLE patients. SLE-DC–mediated IgG-PB differentiation is dependent on B cell–activating factor (BAFF) and IL-10, whereas IgA-PB differentiation is dependent on a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL). Importantly, SLE-DCs express CD138 and trans-present CD138-bound APRIL to B cells, leading to the induction of IgA switching and PB differentiation in an IFN-α–independent manner. We further found that this mechanism of providing B cell help is relevant in vivo, as CD138-bound APRIL is expressed on blood monocytes from active SLE patients. Collectively, our study suggests that a direct myeloid DC–B cell interplay might contribute to the pathogenesis of SLE.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a prototypic inflammatory autoimmune disorder characterized by multisystem involvement and fluctuating disease activity. Symptoms range from rather mild manifestations such as rash or arthritis to life-threatening end-organ manifestations. Despite new and improved therapy having positively impacted the prognosis of SLE, a subgroup of patients do not respond to conventional therapy. Moreover, the risk of fatal outcomes and the damaging side effects of immunosuppressive therapies in SLE call for an improvement in the current therapeutic management. New therapeutic approaches are focused on B-cell targets, T-cell downregulation and costimulatory blockade, cytokine inhibition, and the modulation of complement. Several biological agents have been developed, but this encouraging news is associated with several disappointments in trials and provide a timely moment to reflect on biologic therapy in SLE.
SLE is an autoimmune disease that is not uncommon in Malaysia. In contrast to Malays and Indians, the Chinese seem to be most affected. SLE is characterized by deficiency of body's immune response that leads to production of autoantibodies and failure of immune complex clearance. This minireview attempts to summarize the association of several candidate genes with risk for SLE in the Malaysian population and discuss the genetic heterogeneity that exists locally in Asians and in comparison with SLE in Caucasians. Several groups of researchers have been actively investigating genes that are associated with SLE susceptibility in the Malaysian population by screening possible reported candidate genes across the SLE patients and healthy controls. These candidate genes include MHC genes and genes encoding complement components, TNF, FcγR, T-cell receptors, and interleukins. However, most of the polymorphisms investigated in these genes did not show significant associations with susceptibility to SLE in the Malaysian scenario, except for those occurring in MHC genes and genes coding for TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-1RN, and IL-6.
Interferon-α (IFNα) is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Genetic variation near IRF7 is implicated in SLE susceptibility. SLE-associated autoantibodies can stimulate IFNα production through the Toll-like receptor/IRF7 pathway. This study was undertaken to determine whether variants of IRF7 act as risk factors for SLE by increasing IFNα production and whether autoantibodies are important to this phenomenon.
We studied 492 patients with SLE (236 African American, 162 European American, and 94 Hispanic American subjects). Serum levels of IFNα were measured using a reporter cell assay, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the IRF7/PHRF1 locus were genotyped.
In a joint analysis of European American and Hispanic American subjects, the rs702966 C allele was associated with the presence of anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies (odds ratio [OR] 1.83, P = 0.0069). The rs702966 CC genotype was only associated with higher serum levels of IFNα in European American and Hispanic American patients with anti-dsDNA antibodies (joint analysis P = 4.1 × 10−5 in anti-dsDNA–positive patients and P = 0.99 in anti-dsDNA–negative patients). In African American subjects, anti-Sm antibodies were associated with the rs4963128 SNP near IRF7 (OR 1.95, P = 0.0017). The rs4963128 CT and TT genotypes were associated with higher serum levels of IFNα only in African American patients with anti-Sm antibodies (P = 0.0012). In African American patients lacking anti-Sm antibodies, an effect of anti-dsDNA–rs702966 C allele interaction on serum levels of IFNα was observed, similar to the other patient groups (overall joint analysis P = 1.0 × 10−6). In European American and Hispanic American patients, the IRF5 SLE risk haplotype showed an additive effect with the rs702966 C allele on IFNα level in anti-dsDNA–positive patients.
Our findings indicate that IRF7/PHRF1 variants in combination with SLE-associated autoantibodies result in higher serum levels of IFNα, providing a biologic relevance for this locus at the protein level in human SLE in vivo.
Two F2 functional polymorphisms, rs1799963 (G20210A) and rs3136516 (A19911G), are known to be associated with elevated prothrombin (encoded by F2) levels/activity and thrombosis risk. Since systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients have high risk of thrombosis and accelerated atherosclerosis and also high prevalence of anti-prothrombin antibodies, we hypothesized that these two F2 polymorphisms could affect SLE risk.
We investigated these polymorphisms in 627 women with SLE (84% Caucasian Americans, 16% African Americans) and 657 female controls (78% Caucasian Americans, 22% African Americans).
While the rs1799963 A allele was almost absent in African Americans, it was present at ~2% frequency in Caucasian Americans and showed no significant association with SLE. The rs3136516 G allele frequency was significantly higher in Caucasian SLE cases than controls (48.4% vs. 43.7%) with a covariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.22 (95%CI: 1.03–1.46; P = 0.023). The association was replicated in African Americans (rs3136516 G allele frequency: 91.2% in cases vs. 82.2% in controls) with an adjusted OR of 1.96 (95%CI: 1.08–3.58; P = 0.022). Stratification of Caucasian SLE patients based on the presence or absence of cardiac and vascular events (CVE) revealed stronger association with the CVE-positive SLE subgroup than the CVE-negative SLE subgroup (OR: 1.42 vs. 1.20). Prothrombin activity measurements in a subset of SLE cases demonstrated higher activity in the carriers of the rs3136516 G allele.
Our results suggest a potential role for prothrombin and the crosstalk between hemostatic and immune/inflammatory systems in SLE and SLE-associated cardiovascular events, which warrant further investigation in independent samples.
lupus; prothrombin; F2; polymorphism; A19911G; G20210A
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component that determines risk. A common three single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) haplotype of the complement receptor 2 (CR2) gene has been associated with increased risk of SLE (Wu et al., 2007) (Douglas et al., 2009), and a less common haplotype consisting of the major allele at SNP1 and minor alleles at SNP2 and 3 confers protection (Douglas et al., 2009). SNP1 (rs3813946), which is located in the 5´ untranslated region (UTR) of the CR2 gene, altered transcriptional activity of a CR2 promoter-luciferase reporter gene construct transiently transfected into a B cell line (Wu et al., 2007) and had an independent effect in the protective haplotype (Douglas et al., 2009). In this study, we show that this SNP alters transcriptional activity in a transiently transfected non B-cell line as well as in stably transfected cell lines, supporting its relevance in vivo. Furthermore, the allele at this SNP affects chromatin accessibility of the surrounding sequence and transcription factor binding. These data confirm the effects of rs3813946 on CR2 transcription, identifying the 5´UTR to be a novel regulatory element for the CR2 gene in which variation may alter gene function and modify the development of lupus.
Human; B cells; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Gene Regulation; Transcription Factors; Complement Receptor 2
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a genetically complex disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. Recent studies have greatly expanded the number of established SLE risk alleles, but the distribution of multiple risk alleles in cases versus controls and their relationship to subphenotypes have not been studied. We studied 22 SLE susceptibility polymorphisms with previous genome-wide evidence of association (p<5×10−8) in 1919 SLE cases from 9 independent Caucasian SLE case series and 4813 independent controls. The mean number of risk alleles in cases was 15.1 (SD 3.1) while the mean in controls was 13.1 (SD 2.8), with trend p = 4×10−128. We defined a genetic risk score (GRS) for SLE as the number of risk alleles with each weighted by the SLE risk odds ratio (OR). The OR for high-low GRS tertiles, adjusted for intra-European ancestry, sex, and parent study, was 4.4 (95% CI 3.8–5.1). We studied associations of individual SNPs and the GRS with clinical manifestations for the cases: age at diagnosis, the 11 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria, and double-stranded DNA antibody (anti-dsDNA) production. Six subphenotypes were significantly associated with the GRS, most notably anti-dsDNA (ORhigh-low = 2.36, p = 9e−9), the immunologic criterion (ORhigh-low = 2.23, p = 3e−7), and age at diagnosis (ORhigh-low = 1.45, p = 0.0060). Finally, we developed a subphenotype-specific GRS (sub-GRS) for each phenotype with more power to detect cumulative genetic associations. The sub-GRS was more strongly associated than any single SNP effect for 5 subphenotypes (the above plus hematologic disorder and oral ulcers), while single loci are more significantly associated with renal disease (HLA-DRB1, OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.14–1.64) and arthritis (ITGAM, OR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.59–0.88). We did not observe significant associations for other subphenotypes, for individual loci or the sub-GRS. Thus our analysis categorizes SLE subphenotypes into three groups: those having cumulative, single, and no known genetic association with respect to the currently established SLE risk loci.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease, most commonly striking women in their thirties or forties. It can cause a wide variety of clinical manifestations, including kidney disease, arthritis, and skin disorders. Prognosis varies greatly depending on these clinical features, with kidney disease and related characteristics leading to greater morbidity and mortality. It is also complex genetically; while lupus runs in families, genes increase one's risk for lupus but do not fully determine the outcome. The interactions of multiple genes and/or interactions between genes and environmental factors may cause lupus, but the causes and disease pathways of this very heterogeneous disease are not well understood. By examining relationships between the presence of multiple lupus risk genes, lupus susceptibility, and clinical manifestations, we hope to better understand how lupus is triggered and by what biological pathways it progresses. We show in this work that certain clinical manifestations of lupus are highly associated with cumulative genetic variations, i.e. multiple risk alleles, while others are associated with a single variation or none at all.
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.
UBE2L3 is associated with susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis in European ancestry populations, and this locus has not been investigated fully in non-European populations. We studied the UBE2L3 risk allele for association with SLE, interferon-α (IFN-α), and autoantibodies in a predominantly African American SLE cohort.
We studied 395 patients with SLE and 344 controls. The UBE2L3 rs5754217 polymorphism was genotyped using Taqman primer-probe sets, and IFN-α was measured using a reporter cell assay.
The UBE2L3 rs5754217 T allele was strongly enriched in African American patients with anti-La antibodies as compared to controls, and a recessive model was the best fit for this association (OR 2.55, p = 0.0061). Serum IFN-α also demonstrated a recessive association with the rs5754217 genotype in African American patients, and the TT/anti-La-positive patients formed a significantly high IFN-α subgroup (p = 0.0040). Similar nonstatistically significant patterns of association were observed in the European American patients with SLE. Case-control analysis did not show large allele frequency differences, supporting the idea that this allele is most strongly associated with anti-La-positive patients.
This pattern of recessive influence within a subgroup of patients may explain why this allele does not produce a strong signal in standard case-control studies, and subphenotypes should be included in future studies of UBE2L3. The interaction we observed between UBE2L3 genotype and autoantibodies upon serum IFN-α suggests a biological role for this locus in patients with SLE in vivo.
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; GENETICS INTERFERON-α; AUTOANTIBODIES; UBE2L3 GENOTYPE
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disorder characterized by the presence of auto-antibodies to nuclear antigens, immune complex deposition, and subsequent tissue destruction. Early studies in twins suggested that SLE has, at least in part, a genetic basis, and a role for class II alleles in the major histocompatibility complex has been known for over 30 years. Through both linkage studies and candidate gene studies, numerous additional genetic risk factors have been identified. The recent publication of two SNP-based genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has resulted in the confirmation of a number of previously identified genetic risk loci and has identified new previously unappreciated loci conferring risk for development of SLE. A role for gene copy number variation (CNV) in SLE has also been appreciated through studies of the complement component 4 (C4) loci and more recent work in the IgG Fc receptor loci. The availability of large SNP-based GWAS datasets will undoubtedly lead to the genome-wide analysis and identification of copy number variants related to genetic susceptibility for development of SLE. We review current studies of CNV in SLE susceptibility that include reports of association between SLE and CNV in C4, IgG Fc receptors, TLR7, and CCL3L1.
Sle1 and Sle3 are 2 loci that confer susceptibility to lupus nephritis in the NZM2410 strain of mice. Our previous work has shown that B6.NZMc1 mice, congenic for Sle1, exhibit loss of tolerance to chromatin but do not develop any pathogenic autoantibodies or disease. B6.NZMc7 mice, congenic for Sle3, exhibit low-grade polyclonal B- and T-cell activation, elevated CD4/CD8 ratios, and mildly penetrant glomerulonephritis. In contrast to these monocongenics, the present study reveals that B6.NZMc1|c7 mice, bicongenic for Sle1 and Sle3, exhibit splenomegaly, significantly expanded populations of activated B and CD4+ T cells, and a robust, variegated IgG autoantibody response targeting multiple components of chromatin (including double-stranded DNA), intact glomeruli, and basement membrane matrix antigens. As one might predict, these mice, particularly the females, exhibit highly penetrant glomerulonephritis.
These findings lend strong support to a two-step epistatic model for the formation of pathogenic, nephrophilic autoantibodies in lupus. Whereas loci such as Sle1 may serve to breach tolerance to chromatin, full-blown pathogenic maturation of the autoantibody response appears to require additional input from other loci (such as Sle3) and gender-based factors.
J. Clin. Invest. 103:1685–1695 (1999).
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by an abundance of autoantibodies against nuclear antigens. Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk) is a proximal transducer of the BCR signal that allows for B-cell activation and differentiation. Recently, selective inhibition of Btk by PCI-32765 has shown promise in limiting activity of multiple cells types in various models of cancer and autoimmunity. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of Btk inhibition by PCI-32765 on the development of lupus in lupus-prone B6.Sle1 and B6.Sle1.Sle3 mice.
B6.Sle1 or B6.Sle1.Sle3 mice received drinking water containing either the Btk inhibitor PCI-32765 or vehicle for 56 days. Following treatment, mice were examined for clinical and pathological characteristics of lupus. The effect of PCI-32765 on specific cell types was also investigated.
In this study, we report that Btk inhibition dampens humoral autoimmunity in B6.Sle1 monocongenic mice. Moreover, in B6.Sle1.Sle3 bicongenic mice that are prone to severe lupus, Btk inhibition also dampens humoral and cellular autoimmunity, as well as lupus nephritis.
These findings suggest that partial crippling of cell signaling in B cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs) may be a viable alternative to total depletion of these cells as a therapeutic modality for lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease, develops at a female-to-male ratio of 10:1. Increased serum levels of type I interferons (IFN-α/β) and induction of “IFN-signature” genes are associated with an active SLE disease in patients. Moreover, SLE patients exhibit three- to four-fold increase in the risk of developing malignancies involving B cells, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL). Interestingly, homozygous mice expressing a deletion mutant (the proline-rich domain deleted) of the p53 develop various types of spontaneous tumors, particularly of B-cell origin upon aging. The deletion is associated with defects in transcriptional activation of genes by p53 and inhibition of DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Notably, increased levels of the p202 protein, which is encoded by the p53-repressible interferon-inducible Ifi202 gene, in B cells of female mice are associated with defects in B cell apoptosis, inhibition of the p53-mediated transcription of pro-apoptotic genes, and increased lupus susceptibility. In this review we discuss how increased levels of the p202 protein (and its human functional homologue IFI16 protein) in B cells increase lupus susceptibility and are likely to increase the risk of developing certain B cell malignancies. A complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate B cell homeostasis is necessary to identify SLE patients with an increased risk to develop B cell malignancies.
SLE; interferons; sex bias; B cell malignancies; p53; apoptosis; p200-family