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1.  Fine-Mapping, Gene Expression and Splicing Analysis of the Disease Associated LRRK2 Locus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70724.
Association studies have identified several signals at the LRRK2 locus for Parkinson's disease (PD), Crohn's disease (CD) and leprosy. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms mediating these effects. To further characterize this locus, we fine-mapped the risk association in 5,802 PD and 5,556 controls using a dense genotyping array (ImmunoChip). Using samples from 134 post-mortem control adult human brains (UK Human Brain Expression Consortium), where up to ten brain regions were available per individual, we studied the regional variation, splicing and regulation of LRRK2. We found convincing evidence for a common variant PD association located outside of the LRRK2 protein coding region (rs117762348, A>G, P = 2.56×10−8, case/control MAF 0.083/0.074, odds ratio 0.86 for the minor allele with 95% confidence interval [0.80–0.91]). We show that mRNA expression levels are highest in cortical regions and lowest in cerebellum. We find an exon quantitative trait locus (QTL) in brain samples that localizes to exons 32–33 and investigate the molecular basis of this eQTL using RNA-Seq data in n = 8 brain samples. The genotype underlying this eQTL is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the CD associated non-synonymous SNP rs3761863 (M2397T). We found two additional QTLs in liver and monocyte samples but none of these explained the common variant PD association at rs117762348. Our results characterize the LRRK2 locus, and highlight the importance and difficulties of fine-mapping and integration of multiple datasets to delineate pathogenic variants and thus develop an understanding of disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3742662  PMID: 23967090
2.  Genome-Wide Haplotype Analysis of Cis Expression Quantitative Trait Loci in Monocytes 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003240.
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by several SNPs acting in cis, either through additive or more complex haplotype effects, a systematic genome-wide search for cis haplotype expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) was conducted in a sample of 758 individuals, part of the Cardiogenics Transcriptomic Study, for which genome-wide monocyte expression and GWAS data were available. 19,805 RNA probes were assessed for cis haplotypic regulation through investigation of ∼2,1×109 haplotypic combinations. 2,650 probes demonstrated haplotypic p-values >104-fold smaller than the best single SNP p-value. Replication of significant haplotype effects were tested for 412 probes for which SNPs (or proxies) that defined the detected haplotypes were available in the Gutenberg Health Study composed of 1,374 individuals. At the Bonferroni correction level of 1.2×10−4 (∼0.05/412), 193 haplotypic signals replicated. 1000G imputation was then conducted, and 105 haplotypic signals still remained more informative than imputed SNPs. In-depth analysis of these 105 cis eQTL revealed that at 76 loci genetic associations were compatible with additive effects of several SNPs, while for the 29 remaining regions data could be compatible with a more complex haplotypic pattern. As 24 of the 105 cis eQTL have previously been reported to be disease-associated loci, this work highlights the need for conducting haplotype-based and 1000G imputed cis eQTL analysis before commencing functional studies at disease-associated loci.
Author Summary
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by the presence of more than one cis-acting SNP, we have conducted a systematic genome-wide search for haplotypic cis eQTL effects in a sample of 758 individuals and replicated the findings in an independent sample of 1,374 subjects. In both studies, genome-wide monocytes expression and genotype data were available. We identified 105 genes whose monocyte expression was under the influence of multiple cis-acting SNPs. About 75% of the detected genetic effects were related to independent additive SNP effects and the last quarter due to more complex haplotype effects. Of note, 24 of the genes identified to be affected by multiple cis eSNPs have been previously reported to reside at disease-associated loci. This could suggest that such multiple locus-specific genetic effects could contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3561129  PMID: 23382694
3.  A candidate gene study of the type I interferon pathway implicates IKBKE and IL8 as risk loci for SLE 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
PMCID: PMC3060320  PMID: 21179067
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
4.  IRF5 rs2004640‐T allele, the new genetic factor for systemic lupus erythematosus, is not associated with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(6):828-831.
Recently, a new genetic factor within the interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene was demonstrated for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) through linkage and association: the rs2004640‐T allele. IRF5 is involved in the production of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cytokines, and SLE already shares with RA one genetic factor within the tyrosine phosphatase PTPN22 gene.
To test the hypothesis that the SLE IRF5 genetic factor could also be shared with RA.
Patients and methods
100 French Caucasian trio families with RA were genotyped and analysed with the transmission disequilibrium test, the frequency comparison of the transmitted and untransmitted alleles, and the genotype relative risk. 97% power was available to detect at least a trend in favour of a factor similar to that reported for SLE.
The analysis showed the absence of linkage and association globally and in “autoimmune” RA subsets, with a weak non‐significant trend against the IRF5rs20046470‐T allele. Given the robustness of familial‐based analysis, this slight negative trend provided strong evidence against even a weaker factor than that reported for SLE.
Our results exclude the IRF5rs2004640‐T allele as a major genetic factor for RA in this French Caucasian population.
PMCID: PMC1954661  PMID: 17158136
5.  A risk haplotype of STAT4 for systemic lupus erythematosus is over-expressed, correlates with anti-dsDNA and shows additive effects with two risk alleles of IRF5 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(18):2868-2876.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the prototype autoimmune disease where genes regulated by type I interferon (IFN) are over-expressed and contribute to the disease pathogenesis. Because signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) plays a key role in the type I IFN receptor signaling, we performed a candidate gene study of a comprehensive set of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in STAT4 in Swedish patients with SLE. We found that 10 out of 53 analyzed SNPs in STAT4 were associated with SLE, with the strongest signal of association (P = 7.1 × 10−8) for two perfectly linked SNPs rs10181656 and rs7582694. The risk alleles of these 10 SNPs form a common risk haplotype for SLE (P = 1.7 × 10−5). According to conditional logistic regression analysis the SNP rs10181656 or rs7582694 accounts for all of the observed association signal. By quantitative analysis of the allelic expression of STAT4 we found that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed in primary human cells of mesenchymal origin, but not in B-cells, and that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed (P = 8.4 × 10−5) in cells carrying the risk haplotype for SLE compared with cells with a non-risk haplotype. The risk allele of the SNP rs7582694 in STAT4 correlated to production of anti-dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) antibodies and displayed a multiplicatively increased, 1.82-fold risk of SLE with two independent risk alleles of the IRF5 (interferon regulatory factor 5) gene.
PMCID: PMC2525501  PMID: 18579578
6.  The ITGAV rs3738919-C allele is associated with rheumatoid arthritis in the European Caucasian population: a family-based study 
The integrin αvβ3, whose αv subunit is encoded by the ITGAV gene, plays a key role in angiogenesis. Hyperangiogenesis is involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the ITGAV gene is located in 2q31, one of the suggested RA susceptibility loci. Our aim was to test the ITGAV gene for association and linkage to RA in a family-based study from the European Caucasian population.
Two single nucleotide polymorphisms were genotyped by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism in 100 French Caucasian RA trio families (one RA patient and both parents), 100 other French families and 265 European families available for replication. The genetic analyses for association and linkage were performed using the comparison of allelic frequencies (affected family-based controls), the transmission disequilibrium test, and the genotype relative risk.
We observed a significant RA association for the C allele of rs3738919 in the first sample (affected family-based controls, RA index cases 66.5% versus controls 56.7%; P = 0.04). The second sample showed the same trend, and the third sample again showed a significant RA association. When all sets were combined, the association was confirmed (affected family-based controls, RA index cases 64.6% versus controls 58.1%; P = 0.005). The rs3738919-C allele was also linked to RA (transmission disequilibrium test, 56.5% versus50% of transmission; P = 0.009) and the C-allele-containing genotype was more frequent in RA index cases than in controls (RA index cases 372 versus controls 339; P = 0.002, odds ratio = 1.94, 95% confidence interval = 1.3–2.9).
The rs3738919-C allele of the ITGAV gene is associated with RA in the European Caucasian population, suggesting ITGAV as a new minor RA susceptibility gene.
PMCID: PMC2206364  PMID: 17615072
7.  Rheumatoid arthritis seropositive for the rheumatoid factor is linked to the protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor 22-620W allele 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1200-R1207.
The protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22) gene encodes for lymphoid tyrosine phosphatase LYP, involved in the negative regulation of early T-cell activation. An association has recently been reported between the PTPN22-620W functional allele and rheumatoid factor-positive (RF+) rheumatoid arthritis (RA), among other autoimmune diseases. Expected linkage proof for consistency cannot be definitely produced by an affected sib-pair (ASP) analysis. Our aim was therefore to search for linkage evidence with the transmission disequilibrium test.
DNA from the French Caucasian population was available for two samples of 100 families with one RA patient and both parents, and for 88 RA index cases from RA ASP families. Genotyping was carried out by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism. The analysis was performed using the transmission disequilibrium test, genotype relative risk and ASP-based analysis.
The transmission disequilibrium test of the PTPN22-620W allele revealed linkage and association for RF+ RA (61% of transmission, P = 0.037). The genotype relative risk showed the risk allele in 34% of RF+ RA patients and in 24% of controls derived from nontransmitted parental chromosomes (P = 0.047, odds ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval = 1.03–2.78). The ASP investigation showed no enriched risk allele in RA multiplex families, resulting in a lack of power of ASP analysis, explaining the published negative results.
This study is the first to show linkage of PTPN22 to RF+ RA, consistent with PTPN22 as a new RA gene.
PMCID: PMC1297567  PMID: 16277672

Results 1-7 (7)