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1.  Oncostatin M Mediates STAT3-Dependent Intestinal Epithelial Restitution via Increased Cell Proliferation, Decreased Apoptosis and Upregulation of SERPIN Family Members 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93498.
Objective
Oncostatin M (OSM) is produced by activated T cells, monocytes, and dendritic cells and signals through two distinct receptor complexes consisting of gp130 and LIFR (I) or OSMR-β and gp130 (II), respectively. Aim of this study was to analyze the role of OSM in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and intestinal inflammation.
Methods
OSM expression and OSM receptor distribution was analyzed by PCR and immunohistochemistry experiments, signal transduction by immunoblotting. Gene expression studies were performed by microarray analysis and RT-PCR. Apoptosis was measured by caspases-3/7 activity. IEC migration and proliferation was studied in wounding and water soluble tetrazolium assays.
Results
The IEC lines Caco-2, DLD-1, SW480, HCT116 and HT-29 express mRNA for the OSM receptor subunits gp130 and OSMR-β, while only HCT116, HT-29 and DLD-1 cells express LIFR mRNA. OSM binding to its receptor complex activates STAT1, STAT3, ERK-1/2, SAPK/JNK-1/2, and Akt. Microarray analysis revealed 79 genes that were significantly up-regulated (adj.-p≤0.05) by OSM in IEC. Most up-regulated genes belong to the functional categories “immunity and defense” (p = 2.1×10−7), “apoptosis” (p = 3.7×10−4) and “JAK/STAT cascade” (p = 3.4×10−6). Members of the SERPIN gene family were among the most strongly up-regulated genes. OSM significantly increased STAT3- and MEK1-dependent IEC cell proliferation (p<0.05) and wound healing (p = 3.9×10−5). OSM protein expression was increased in colonic biopsies of patients with active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Conclusions
OSM promotes STAT3-dependent intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and wound healing in vitro. Considering the increased OSM expression in colonic biopsy specimens of patients with active IBD, OSM upregulation may modulate a barrier-protective host response in intestinal inflammation. Further in vivo studies are warranted to elucidate the exact role of OSM in intestinal inflammation and the potential of OSM as a drug target in IBD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093498
PMCID: PMC3977870  PMID: 24710357
2.  IRGM Variants and Susceptibility to Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the German Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54338.
Background & Aims
Genome-wide association studies identified the autophagy gene IRGM to be strongly associated with Crohn's disease (CD) but its impact in ulcerative colitis (UC), its phenotypic effects and potential epistatic interactions with other IBD susceptibility genes are less clear which we therefore analyzed in this study.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2060 individuals including 817 CD patients, 283 UC patients, and 961 healthy, unrelated controls (all of Caucasian origin) was analyzed for six IRGM single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs13371189, rs10065172 = p.Leu105Leu, rs4958847, rs1000113, rs11747270, rs931058). In all patients, a detailed genotype-phenotype analysis and testing for epistasis with the three major CD susceptibility genes NOD2, IL23R and ATG16L1 were performed.
Our analysis revealed an association of the IRGM SNPs rs13371189 (p = 0.02, OR 1.31 [95% CI 1.05–1.65]), rs10065172 = p.Leu105Leu (p = 0.016, OR 1.33 [95% CI 1.06–1.66]) and rs1000113 (p = 0.047, OR 1.27 [95% CI 1.01–1.61]) with CD susceptibility. There was linkage disequilibrium between these three IRGM SNPs. In UC, several IRGM haplotypes were weakly associated with UC susceptibility (p<0.05). Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed no significant associations with a specific IBD phenotype or ileal CD involvement. There was evidence for weak gene-gene-interaction between several SNPs of the autophagy genes IRGM and ATG16L1 (p<0.05), which, however, did not remain significant after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results confirm IRGM as susceptibility gene for CD in the German population, supporting a role for the autophagy genes IRGM and ATG16L1 in the pathogenesis of CD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054338
PMCID: PMC3554777  PMID: 23365659
3.  Analysis of IL12B Gene Variants in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34349.
Background
IL12B encodes the p40 subunit of IL-12, which is also part of IL-23. Recent genome-wide association studies identified IL12B and IL23R as susceptibility genes for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the phenotypic effects and potential gene-gene interactions of IL12B variants are largely unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed IL12B gene variants regarding association with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Genomic DNA from 2196 individuals including 913 CD patients, 318 UC patients and 965 healthy, unrelated controls was analyzed for four SNPs in the IL12B gene region (rs3212227, rs17860508, rs10045431, rs6887695). Our analysis revealed an association of the IL12B SNP rs6887695 with susceptibility to IBD (p = 0.035; OR 1.15 [95% CI 1.01–1.31] including a trend for rs6887695 for association with CD (OR 1.41; [0.99–1.31], p = 0.066) and UC (OR 1.18 [0.97–1.43], p = 0.092). CD patients, who were homozygous C/C carriers of this SNP, had significantly more often non-stricturing, non-penetrating disease than carriers of the G allele (p = 6.8×10−5; OR = 2.84, 95% CI 1.66–4.84), while C/C homozygous UC patients had less often extensive colitis than G allele carriers (p = 0.029; OR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.14–0.92). In silico analysis predicted stronger binding of the minor C allele of rs6887695 to the transcription factor RORα which is involved in Th17 differentiation. Differences regarding the binding to the major and minor allele sequence of rs6887695 were also predicted for the transcription factors HSF1, HSF2, MZF1 and Oct-1. Epistasis analysis revealed weak epistasis of the IL12B SNP rs6887695 with several SNPs (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs7568275, rs8179673, rs10181656, rs7582694) in the STAT4 gene which encodes the major IL-12 downstream transcription factor STAT4 (p<0.05) but there was no epistasis between IL23R and IL12B variants.
Conclusions/Significance
The IL12B SNP rs6887695 modulates the susceptibility and the phenotype of IBD, although the effect on IBD susceptibilty is less pronounced than that of IL23R gene variants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034349
PMCID: PMC3316707  PMID: 22479607
4.  PTPN2 Gene Variants Are Associated with Susceptibility to Both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Supporting a Common Genetic Disease Background 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33682.
Background
Genome-wide association studies identified PTPN2 (protein tyrosine phosphatase, non-receptor type 2) as susceptibility gene for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, the exact role of PTPN2 in Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) and its phenotypic effect are unclear. We therefore performed a detailed genotype-phenotype and epistasis analysis of PTPN2 gene variants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2131 individuals of Caucasian origin (905 patients with CD, 318 patients with UC, and 908 healthy, unrelated controls) was analyzed for two SNPs in the PTPN2 region (rs2542151, rs7234029) for which associations with IBD were found in previous studies in other cohorts. Our analysis revealed a significant association of PTPN2 SNP rs2542151 with both susceptibility to CD (p = 1.95×10−5; OR 1.49 [1.34–1.79]) and UC (p = 3.87×10−2, OR 1.31 [1.02–1.68]). Moreover, PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 demonstrated a significant association with susceptibility to CD (p = 1.30×10−3; OR 1.35 [1.13–1.62]) and a trend towards association with UC (p = 7.53×10−2; OR 1.26 [0.98–1.62]). Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed an association of PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 with a stricturing disease phenotype (B2) in CD patients (p = 6.62×10−3). Epistasis analysis showed weak epistasis between the ATG16L1 SNP rs2241879 and PTPN2 SNP rs2542151 (p = 0.024) in CD and between ATG16L1 SNP rs4663396 and PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 (p = 4.68×10−3) in UC. There was no evidence of epistasis between PTPN2 and NOD2 and PTPN2 and IL23R. In silico analysis revealed that the SNP rs7234029 modulates potentially the binding sites of several transcription factors involved in inflammation including GATA-3, NF-κB, C/EBP, and E4BP4.
Conclusions/Significance
Our data confirm the association of PTPN2 variants with susceptibility to both CD and UC, suggesting a common disease pathomechanism for these diseases. Given recent evidence that PTPN2 regulates autophagosome formation in intestinal epithelial cells, the potential link between PTPN2 and ATG16L1 should be further investigated.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033682
PMCID: PMC3310077  PMID: 22457781
5.  The Role of Osteopontin (OPN/SPP1) Haplotypes in the Susceptibility to Crohn's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29309.
Background
Osteopontin represents a multifunctional molecule playing a pivotal role in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Its expression is increased in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim of our study was to analyze the association of osteopontin (OPN/SPP1) gene variants in a large cohort of IBD patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2819 Caucasian individuals (n = 841 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), n = 473 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and n = 1505 healthy unrelated controls) was analyzed for nine OPN SNPs (rs2728127, rs2853744, rs11730582, rs11739060, rs28357094, rs4754 = p.Asp80Asp, rs1126616 = p.Ala236Ala, rs1126772 and rs9138). Considering the important role of osteopontin in Th17-mediated diseases, we performed analysis for epistasis with IBD-associated IL23R variants and analyzed serum levels of the Th17 cytokine IL-22. For four OPN SNPs (rs4754, rs1126616, rs1126772 and rs9138), we observed significantly different distributions between male and female CD patients. rs4754 was protective in male CD patients (p = 0.0004, OR = 0.69). None of the other investigated OPN SNPs was associated with CD or UC susceptibility. However, several OPN haplotypes showed significant associations with CD susceptibility. The strongest association was found for a haplotype consisting of the 8 OPN SNPs rs2728127-rs2853744-rs11730582-rs11439060-rs28357094-rs112661-rs1126772-rs9138 (omnibus p-value = 2.07×10−8). Overall, the mean IL-22 secretion in the combined group of OPN minor allele carriers with CD was significantly lower than that of CD patients with OPN wildtype alleles (p = 3.66×10−5). There was evidence for weak epistasis between the OPN SNP rs28357094 with the IL23R SNP rs10489629 (p = 4.18×10−2) and between OPN SNP rs1126616 and IL23R SNP rs2201841 (p = 4.18×10−2) but none of these associations remained significant after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusions/Significance
Our study identified OPN haplotypes as modifiers of CD susceptibility, while the combined effects of certain OPN variants may modulate IL-22 secretion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029309
PMCID: PMC3248444  PMID: 22242114
6.  CEACAM6 Gene Variants in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19319.
Background
The carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM6) acts as a receptor for adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) and its ileal expression is increased in patients with Crohn's disease (CD). Given its contribution to the pathogenesis of CD, we aimed to investigate the role of genetic variants in the CEACAM6 region in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
Methodology
In this study, a total of 2,683 genomic DNA samples (including DNA from 858 CD patients, 475 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1,350 healthy, unrelated controls) was analyzed for eight CEACAM6 SNPs (rs10415946, rs1805223 = p.Pro42Pro, rs4803507, rs4803508, rs11548735 = p.Gly239Val, rs7246116 = pHis260His, rs2701, rs10416839). In addition, a detailed haplotype analysis and genotype-phenotype analysis were performed. Overall, our genotype analysis did not reveal any significant association of the investigated CEACAM6 SNPs and haplotypes with CD or UC susceptibility, although certain CEACAM6 SNPs modulated CEACAM6 expression in intestinal epithelial cell lines. Despite its function as receptor of AIEC in ileal CD, we found no association of the CEACAM6 SNPs with ileal or ileocolonic CD. Moreover, there was no evidence of epistasis between the analyzed CEACAM6 variants and the main CD-associated NOD2, IL23R and ATG16L1 variants.
Conclusions
This study represents the first detailed analysis of CEACAM6 variants in IBD patients. Despite its important role in bacterial attachment in ileal CD, we could not demonstrate a role for CEACAM6 variants in IBD susceptibility or regarding an ileal CD phenotype. Further functional studies are required to analyze if these gene variants modulate ileal bacterial attachment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019319
PMCID: PMC3084820  PMID: 21559399
7.  The NOD2 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms rs2066843 and rs2076756 Are Novel and Common Crohn's Disease Susceptibility Gene Variants 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14466.
Background
The aims were to analyze two novel NOD2 variants (rs2066843 and rs2076756) in a large cohort of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and to elucidate phenotypic consequences.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2700 Caucasians including 812 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 442 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1446 healthy controls was analyzed for the NOD2 SNPs rs2066843 and rs2076756 and the three main CD-associated NOD2 variants p.Arg702Trp (rs2066844), p.Gly908Arg (rs2066847), and p.Leu1007fsX1008 (rs2066847). Haplotype and genotype-phenotype analyses were performed. The SNPs rs2066843 (p = 3.01×10−5, OR 1.48, [95% CI 1.23-1.78]) and rs2076756 (p = 4.01×10−6; OR 1.54, [95% CI 1.28-1.86]) were significantly associated with CD but not with UC susceptibility. Haplotype analysis revealed a number of significant associations with CD susceptibility with omnibus p values <10−10. The SNPs rs2066843 and rs2076756 were in linkage disequilibrium with each other and with the three main CD-associated NOD2 mutations (D'>0.9). However, in CD, SNPs rs2066843 and rs2076756 were more frequently observed than the other three common NOD2 mutations (minor allele frequencies for rs2066843 and rs2076756: 0.390 and 0.380, respectively). In CD patients homozygous for these novel NOD2 variants, genotype-phenotype analysis revealed higher rates of a penetrating phenotype (rs2076756: p = 0.015) and fistulas (rs2076756: p = 0.015) and significant associations with CD-related surgery (rs2076756: p = 0.003; rs2066843: p = 0.015). However, in multivariate analysis only disease localization (p<2×10−16) and behaviour (p = 0.02) were significantly associated with the need for surgery.
Conclusion/Significance
The NOD2 variants rs2066843 and rs2076756 are novel and common CD susceptibility gene variants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014466
PMCID: PMC3012690  PMID: 21209938
8.  Comparative Analysis of the Lambda-Interferons IL-28A and IL-29 regarding Their Transcriptome and Their Antiviral Properties against Hepatitis C Virus 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15200.
Background
Specific differences in signaling and antiviral properties between the different Lambda-interferons, a novel group of interferons composed of IL-28A, IL-28B and IL-29, are currently unknown. This is the first study comparatively investigating the transcriptome and the antiviral properties of the Lambda-interferons IL-28A and IL-29.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Expression studies were performed by microarray analysis, quantitative PCR (qPCR), reporter gene assays and immunoluminometric assays. Signaling was analyzed by Western blot. HCV replication was measured in Huh-7 cells expressing subgenomic HCV replicon. All hepatic cell lines investigated as well as primary hepatocytes expressed both IFN-λ receptor subunits IL-10R2 and IFN-λR1. Both, IL-28A and IL-29 activated STAT1 signaling. As revealed by microarray analysis, similar genes were induced by both cytokines in Huh-7 cells (IL-28A: 117 genes; IL-29: 111 genes), many of them playing a role in antiviral immunity. However, only IL-28A was able to significantly down-regulate gene expression (n = 272 down-regulated genes). Both cytokines significantly decreased HCV replication in Huh-7 cells. In comparison to liver biopsies of patients with non-viral liver disease, liver biopsies of patients with HCV showed significantly increased mRNA expression of IL-28A and IL-29. Moreover, IL-28A serum protein levels were elevated in HCV patients. In a murine model of viral hepatitis, IL-28 expression was significantly increased.
Conclusions/Significance
IL-28A and IL-29 are up-regulated in HCV patients and are similarly effective in inducing antiviral genes and inhibiting HCV replication. In contrast to IL-29, IL-28A is a potent gene repressor. Both IFN-λs may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of chronic HCV.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015200
PMCID: PMC2999541  PMID: 21170333
9.  Interleukin 31 mediates MAP kinase and STAT1/3 activation in intestinal epithelial cells and its expression is upregulated in inflammatory bowel disease 
Gut  2007;56(9):1257-1265.
Background/aim
Interleukin 31 (IL31), primarily expressed in activated lymphocytes, signals through a heterodimeric receptor complex consisting of the IL31 receptor alpha (IL31Rα) and the oncostatin M receptor (OSMR). The aim of this study was to analyse IL31 receptor expression, signal transduction, and specific biological functions of this cytokine system in intestinal inflammation.
Methods
Expression studies were performed by RT‐PCR, quantitative PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Signal transduction was analysed by western blotting. Cell proliferation was measured by MTS assays, cell migration by restitution assays.
Results
Colorectal cancer derived intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) lines express both IL31 receptor subunits, while their expression in unstimulated primary murine IEC was low. LPS and the proinflammatory cytokines TNF‐α, IL1β, IFN‐γ, and sodium butyrate stimulation increased IL31, IL31Rα, and OSMR mRNA expression, while IL31 itself enhanced IL8 expression in IEC. IL31 mediates ERK‐1/2, Akt, STAT1, and STAT3 activation in IEC resulting in enhanced IEC migration. However, at low cell density, IL31 had significant antiproliferative capacities (p<0.005). IL31 mRNA expression was not increased in the TNFΔARE mouse model of ileitis but in inflamed colonic lesions compared to non‐inflamed tissue in patients with Crohn's disease (CD; average 2.4‐fold increase) and in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC; average 2.6‐fold increase) and correlated with the IL‐8 expression in these lesions (r = 0.564 for CD; r = 0.650 for UC; total number of biopsies analysed: n = 88).
Conclusion
IEC express the functional IL31 receptor complex. IL31 modulates cell proliferation and migration suggesting a role in the regulation of intestinal barrier function particularly in intestinal inflammation.
doi:10.1136/gut.2006.118679
PMCID: PMC1954980  PMID: 17449633
interleukin; Crohn's disease; ulcerative colitis; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal epithelial cell
10.  Evidence for STAT4 as a Common Autoimmune Gene: rs7574865 Is Associated with Colonic Crohn's Disease and Early Disease Onset 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10373.
Background
Recent studies demonstrated an association of STAT4 variants with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), indicating that multiple autoimmune diseases share common susceptibility genes. We therefore investigated the influence of STAT4 variants on the susceptibility and phenotype of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in a large patient and control cohort.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2704 individuals of Caucasian origin including 857 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 464 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1383 healthy, unrelated controls was analyzed for seven SNPs in the STAT4 gene (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs7568275, rs8179673, rs10181656, rs7582694, rs10174238). In addition, a detailed genotype-phenotype analysis was performed. Our analysis revealed an association of the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 with overall decreased susceptibility to CD (p = 0.047, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–0.99]). However, compared to CD patients carrying the wild type genotype, the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 was significantly associated with early CD onset (p = 0.021) and colonic CD (p = 0.008; OR = 4.60, 95% CI 1.63–12.96). For two other STAT4 variants, there was a trend towards protection against CD susceptibility (rs7568275, p = 0.058, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–1.00]; rs10174238, p = 0.057, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.75–1.00]). In contrast, we did not observe any association with UC susceptibility. Evidence for weak gene-gene interaction of STAT4 with the IL23R SNP rs11209026 was lost after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results identified the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 as a disease-modifying gene variant in colonic CD. However, in contrast to SLE and RA, the effect of rs7574865 on CD susceptibility is only weak.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010373
PMCID: PMC2861592  PMID: 20454450

Results 1-10 (10)