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1.  Little Polymorphism at the K13 Propeller Locus in Worldwide Plasmodium falciparum Populations Prior to the Introduction of Artemisinin Combination Therapies 
The emergence and spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum is of huge concern for the global effort toward malaria control and elimination. Artemisinin resistance, defined as a delayed time to parasite clearance following administration of artemisinin, is associated with mutations in the Pfkelch13 gene of resistant parasites. To date, as many as 60 nonsynonymous mutations have been identified in this gene, but whether these mutations have been selected by artemisinin usage or merely reflect natural polymorphism independent of selection is currently unknown. To clarify this, we sequenced the Pfkelch13 propeller domain in 581 isolates collected before (420 isolates) and after (161 isolates) the implementation of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), from various regions of endemicity worldwide. Nonsynonymous mutations were observed in 1% of parasites isolated prior to the introduction of ACTs. Frequencies of mutant isolates, nucleotide diversity, and haplotype diversity were significantly higher in the parasites isolated from populations exposed to artemisinin than in those from populations that had not been exposed to the drug. In the artemisinin-exposed population, a significant excess of dN compared to dS was observed, suggesting the presence of positive selection. In contrast, pairwise comparison of dN and dS and the McDonald and Kreitman test indicate that purifying selection acts on the Pfkelch13 propeller domain in populations not exposed to ACTs. These population genetic analyses reveal a low baseline of Pfkelch13 polymorphism, probably due to purifying selection in the absence of artemisinin selection. In contrast, various Pfkelch13 mutations have been selected under artemisinin pressure.
PMCID: PMC4879392  PMID: 27001814
2.  Association of BAK1 single nucleotide polymorphism with a risk for dengue hemorrhagic fever 
BMC Medical Genetics  2016;17:43.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a severe life-threatening form of dengue infection. Low platelet count is one of the characteristic clinical manifestations in patients with severe dengue. However, little is known about genetic factors in the host that cause low platelet count in patients with dengue.
A previous genome-wide association study of hematological and biochemical traits identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with low platelet count in healthy subjects. To examine the possible association of these SNPs with DHF, 918 Thai patients with dengue [509 patients with DHF and 409 with dengue fever (DF)] were genotyped for five SNPs: rs5745568 in BAK1, rs6141 in THPO, rs6065 in GP1BA, rs739496 in SH2B3, and rs385893 in RCL1. In addition, rs4804803 in CD209, that has been reported to be associated with dengue infection, was also genotyped to examine if rs4804803 affects the association detected in this study.
The allele frequencies of each SNP were compared between the DHF and DF groups. Among the five SNPs, the G allele of rs5745568 in BAK1 was significantly associated with a risk for DHF [P = 0.006 and crude odd ratio (95 % confidence interval) = 1.32 (1.09–1.60)]. The association of this allele with DHF was also significant in a logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, hospital (i.e., geographic region), immune status (i.e., primary or secondary infection), and virus serotype [P = 0.016 and adjusted odd ratio (95 % confidence interval) = 1.29 (1.05–1.58)]. The result was not influenced by rs4804803 [P = 0.0167 and adjusted OR (95 % CI) = 1.29 (1.05–1.58)]. No other SNPs including rs4804803 showed significant association.
The low-level constitutive production of platelets caused by the G allele of rs5745568 seems to increase the risk of bleeding in dengue infection. Our results suggest that BCL-2 homologous antagonist/killer (BAK) protein, encoded by BAK1, plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of DHF.
PMCID: PMC4940700  PMID: 27401010
3.  Association of PECAM1/CD31 polymorphisms with cerebral malaria 
Platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM1/CD31), a receptor recognized by P. falciparum-infected red blood cells (iRBCs), on the vascular endothelium has been implicated in mediating cytoadherence in patients with P. falciparum malaria. To examine associations of PECAM1 polymorphisms with cerebral malaria, 11 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of PECAM1 were analysed for 312 Thai patients with P. falciparum malaria (109 with cerebral malaria and 203 with mild malaria). The rs1122800-C allele was significantly associated with protection from cerebral malaria (P = 0.017), and the rs9912957-A significantly increased the risk for cerebral malaria (P = 0.0065) in malaria patients. Fine-scale mapping using genotyped and imputed SNPs and linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis revealed that rs1122800 and rs9912957 were located in two distinct LD blocks and were independently associated with cerebral malaria. The rs1122800-C allele was significantly associated with lower expression level of PECAM1 in EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (P = 0.045). The present results suggest that PECAM1-mediated cytoadherence of iRBCs to brain endothelium plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria.
PMCID: PMC4913224  PMID: 27335627
PECAM1; cerebral malaria; SNP; association study; candidate gene approach; Thai
4.  Endoplasmic reticulum stress induced by tunicamycin increases resistin messenger ribonucleic acid through the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum eukaryotic initiation factor 2α kinase–activating transcription factor 4–CAAT/enhancer binding protein‐α homologous protein pathway in THP‐1 human monocytes 
Resistin, secreted from adipocytes, causes insulin resistance in mice. In humans, the resistin gene is mainly expressed in monocytes and macrophages. Tunicamycin is known to induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and reduce resistin gene expression in 3T3‐L1 mouse adipocytes. The aim of the present study was to examine whether ER stress affects resistin gene expression in human monocytes.
Materials and Methods
The relationship between resistin messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and ER stress markers mRNA was analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in isolated monocytes of 30 healthy volunteers. The effect of endotoxin/lipopolysaccharides or tunicamycin on resistin gene expression was analyzed in THP‐1 human monocytes. Signaling pathways leading to resistin mRNA were assessed by the knockdown using small interfering RNA or overexpression of key molecules involved in unfolded protein response.
Resistin mRNA was positively associated with immunoglobulin heavy chain‐binding protein (BiP) or CAAT/enhancer binding protein‐α homologous protein (CHOP) mRNA in human isolated monocytes. In THP‐1 cells, lipopolysaccharides increased mRNA of BiP, pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum eukaryotic initiation factor 2α kinase (PERK) and CHOP, as well as resistin. Tunicamycin also increased resistin mRNA. This induction appeared to be dose‐ and time‐dependent. Tunicamycin‐induced resistin mRNA was inhibited by chemical chaperone, 4‐phenylbutyric acid. The knockdown of either PERK, activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) or CHOP reduced tunicamycin‐induced resistin mRNA. Conversely, overexpression of ATF4 or CHOP increased resistin mRNA.
Endoplasmic reticulum stress induced by tunicamycin increased resistin mRNA through the PERK–ATF4–CHOP pathway in THP‐1 human monocytes. ER stress could lead to insulin resistance through enhanced resistin gene expression in human monocytes.
PMCID: PMC4847884  PMID: 27330716
Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Human monocytes; Resistin
5.  Understanding of HLA-conferred susceptibility to chronic hepatitis B infection requires HLA genotyping-based association analysis 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:24767.
Associations of variants located in the HLA class II region with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection have been identified in Asian populations. Here, HLA imputation method was applied to determine HLA alleles using genome-wide SNP typing data of 1,975 Japanese individuals (1,033 HBV patients and 942 healthy controls). Together with data of an additional 1,481 Japanese healthy controls, association tests of six HLA loci including HLA-A, C, B, DRB1, DQB1, and DPB1, were performed. Although the strongest association was detected at a SNP located in the HLA-DP locus in a SNP-based GWAS using data from the 1,975 Japanese individuals, HLA genotyping-based analysis identified DQB1*06:01 as having the strongest association, showing a greater association with CHB susceptibility (OR = 1.76, P = 6.57 × 10−18) than any one of five HLA-DPB1 alleles that were previously reported as CHB susceptibility alleles. Moreover, HLA haplotype analysis showed that, among the five previously reported HLA-DPB1 susceptibility and protective alleles, the association of two DPB1 alleles (DPB1*09:01, and *04:01) had come from linkage disequilibrium with HLA-DR-DQ haplotypes, DRB1*15:02-DQB1*06:01 and DRB1*13:02-DQB1*06:04, respectively. The present study showed an example that SNP-based GWAS does not necessarily detect the primary susceptibility locus in the HLA region.
PMCID: PMC4835786  PMID: 27091392
6.  Sequence features associated with the cleavage efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 system 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:19675.
The CRISPR-Cas9 system has recently emerged as a versatile tool for biological and medical research. In this system, a single guide RNA (sgRNA) directs the endonuclease Cas9 to a targeted DNA sequence for site-specific manipulation. In addition to this targeting function, the sgRNA has also been shown to play a role in activating the endonuclease activity of Cas9. This dual function of the sgRNA likely underlies observations that different sgRNAs have varying on-target activities. Currently, our understanding of the relationship between sequence features of sgRNAs and their on-target cleavage efficiencies remains limited, largely due to difficulties in assessing the cleavage capacity of a large number of sgRNAs. In this study, we evaluated the cleavage activities of 218 sgRNAs using in vitro Surveyor assays. We found that nucleotides at both PAM-distal and PAM-proximal regions of the sgRNA are significantly correlated with on-target efficiency. Furthermore, we also demonstrated that the genomic context of the targeted DNA, the GC percentage, and the secondary structure of sgRNA are critical factors contributing to cleavage efficiency. In summary, our study reveals important parameters for the design of sgRNAs with high on-target efficiencies, especially in the context of high throughput applications.
PMCID: PMC4728555  PMID: 26813419
7.  Genetic evidence for contribution of human dispersal to the genetic diversity of EBA-175 in Plasmodium falciparum 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:293.
The 175-kDa erythrocyte binding antigen (EBA-175) of Plasmodium falciparum plays a crucial role in merozoite invasion into human erythrocytes. EBA-175 is believed to have been under diversifying selection; however, there have been no studies investigating the effect of dispersal of humans out of Africa on the genetic variation of EBA-175 in P. falciparum.
The PCR-direct sequencing was performed for a part of the eba-175 gene (regions II and III) using DNA samples obtained from Thai patients infected with P. falciparum. The divergence times for the P. falciparum eba-175 alleles were estimated assuming that P. falciparum/Plasmodium reichenowi divergence occurred 6 million years ago (MYA). To examine the possibility of diversifying selection, nonsynonymous and synonymous substitution rates for Plasmodium species were also estimated.
A total of 32 eba-175 alleles were identified from 131 Thai P. falciparum isolates. Their estimated divergence time was 0.13–0.14 MYA, before the exodus of humans from Africa. A phylogenetic tree for a large sequence dataset of P. falciparumeba-175 alleles from across the world showed the presence of a basal Asian-specific cluster for all P. falciparum sequences. A markedly more nonsynonymous substitutions than synonymous substitutions in region II in P. falciparum was also detected, but not within Plasmodium species parasitizing African apes, suggesting that diversifying selection has acted specifically on P. falciparumeba-175.
Plasmodium falciparumeba-175 genetic diversity appeared to increase following the exodus of Asian ancestors from Africa. Diversifying selection may have played an important role in the diversification of eba-175 allelic lineages. The present results suggest that the dispersals of humans out of Africa influenced significantly the molecular evolution of P. falciparum EBA-175.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12936-015-0820-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4522064  PMID: 26231699
Diversifying selection; EBA-175; Human evolution; Out-of-Africa; Plasmodium falciparum
8.  Cell-surface MHC density profiling reveals instability of autoimmunity-associated HLA 
Polymorphisms within HLA gene loci are strongly associated with susceptibility to autoimmune disorders; however, it is not clear how genetic variations in these loci confer a disease risk. Here, we devised a cell-surface MHC expression assay to detect allelic differences in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ proteins. We found extreme variation in cell-surface MHC density among HLA-DQ alleles, indicating a dynamic allelic hierarchy in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ proteins. Using the case-control data for type 1 diabetes (T1D) for the Swedish and Japanese populations, we determined that T1D risk–associated HLA-DQ haplotypes, which also increase risk for autoimmune endocrinopathies and other autoimmune disorders, encode unstable proteins, whereas the T1D–protective haplotypes encode the most stable HLA-DQ proteins. Among the amino acid variants of HLA-DQ, alterations in 47α, the residue that is located on the outside of the peptide-binding groove and acts as a key stability regulator, showed strong association with T1D. Evolutionary analysis suggested that 47α variants have been the target of positive diversifying selection. Our study demonstrates a steep allelic hierarchy in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ that is associated with T1D risk and protection, suggesting that HLA instability mediates the development of autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC4382229  PMID: 25485681
9.  A replication study confirms the association of GWAS-identified SNPs at MICB and PLCE1 in Thai patients with dengue shock syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:58.
Dengue shock syndrome (DSS), a severe life-threatening form of dengue infection, mostly occurs in children. A recent genome wide association study (GWAS) identified two SNPs, rs3132468 of major histocompatibility complex class I polypeptide-related sequence B (MICB) and rs3765524 of phospholipase C, epsilon 1 (PLCE1), associated with DSS in Vietnamese children. In this study, to examine whether an identical association is found in a different population, the association of these two SNPs with DSS was assessed in Thai children with dengue.
The rs3132468 and rs3765524 SNPs were genotyped in 917 Thai children with dengue: 76 patients with DSS and 841 patients with non-DSS. The allele frequencies were compared between DSS and non-DSS groups by one-sided Fisher’s exact test. The association of rs3132468 and rs3765524 with the mRNA expression levels of MICB and PLCE1 were assessed in EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines.
The reported DSS-risk alleles were significantly associated with DSS in Thai patients with dengue (one-sided P = 0.0213 and odds ratio [OR] = 1.58 for rs3132468-C and one-sided P = 0.0252 and OR = 1.49 for rs3765524-C). The rs3132468-C allele showed a significant association with lower mRNA level of MICB (P = 0.0267), whereas the rs3765524-C allele did not. These results imply that the MICB molecule may play an important role in the prevention of DSS in dengue infection.
Together with previous association studies, we conclude that rs3132468-C at MICB and rs3765524-C at PLCE1 confer risk of DSS in Southeast Asians.
PMCID: PMC4030448  PMID: 24884822
Association; Dengue shock syndrome (DSS); Expression; MICB; PLCE1; Polymorphism
10.  Generation of Rodent Malaria Parasites with a High Mutation Rate by Destructing Proofreading Activity of DNA Polymerase δ 
Plasmodium falciparum malaria imposes a serious public health concern throughout the tropics. Although genetic tools are principally important to fully investigate malaria parasites, currently available forward and reverse tools are fairly limited. It is expected that parasites with a high mutation rate can readily acquire novel phenotypes/traits; however, they remain an untapped tool for malaria biology. Here, we generated a mutator malaria parasite (hereinafter called a ‘malaria mutator’), using site-directed mutagenesis and gene transfection techniques. A mutator Plasmodium berghei line with a defective proofreading 3′ → 5′ exonuclease activity in DNA polymerase δ (referred to as PbMut) and a control P. berghei line with wild-type DNA polymerase δ (referred to as PbCtl) were maintained by weekly passage in ddY mice for 122 weeks. High-throughput genome sequencing analysis revealed that two PbMut lines had 175–178 mutations and a 86- to 90-fold higher mutation rate than that of a PbCtl line. PbMut, PbCtl, and their parent strain, PbWT, showed similar course of infection. Interestingly, PbMut lost the ability to form gametocytes during serial passages. We believe that the malaria mutator system could provide a novel and useful tool to investigate malaria biology.
PMCID: PMC4131837  PMID: 24670267
mutator; Plasmodium; DNA polymerase δ; genome sequencing
11.  Association of the endothelial protein C receptor (PROCR) rs867186-G allele with protection from severe malaria 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:105.
Cytoadhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to endothelial cells in microvessels is a remarkable characteristic of severe malaria. The endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR), encoded by the endothelial protein C receptor gene (PROCR), has recently been identified as an endothelial receptor for specific P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) subtypes containing domain cassettes (DCs) 8 and 13. The PROCR rs867186-G allele (serine-to-glycine substitution at position 219 of EPCR; 219Gly) has been shown to be associated with higher levels of plasma soluble EPCR (sEPCR). In this study, the association of PROCR rs867186 with severe malaria is examined in Thai population.
A total of 707 Thai patients with P. falciparum malaria (341 with severe malaria and 336 with mild malaria) were genotyped for rs867186. To assess the association of PROCR rs867186 with severe malaria, three models (dominant, recessive and allelic) were evaluated. The rates of non-synonymous and synonymous substitutions were estimated for the coding sequence of the PROCR gene.
The rs867186-GG genotype was significantly associated with protection from severe malaria (P-value = 0.026; odds ratio = 0.33; 95% confidence interval = 0.12–0.90). Evolutionary analysis provided no evidence of strong positive selection acting on the PROCR gene.
The rs867186-GG genotype showed significant association with protection from severe malaria. The present results suggest that PfEMP1–EPCR interaction, which can mediate cytoadhesion and/or reduce cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory effects, is crucial to the pathogenesis of severe malaria.
PMCID: PMC4004250  PMID: 24635948
12.  Diversifying Selection on the Thrombospondin-Related Adhesive Protein (TRAP) Gene of Plasmodium falciparum in Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90522.
Sporozoites of Plasmodium falciparum are transmitted to human hosts by Anopheles mosquitoes. Thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) is expressed in sporozoites and plays a crucial role in sporozoite gliding and invasion of human hepatocytes. A previous study showed that the TRAP gene has been subjected to balancing selection in the Gambian P. falciparum population. To further study the molecular evolution of the TRAP gene in Plasmodium falciparum, we investigated TRAP polymorphisms in P. falciparum isolates from Suan Phueng District in Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. The analysis of the entire TRAP coding sequences in 32 isolates identified a total of 39 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which comprised 37 nonsynonymous and two synonymous SNPs. McDonald–Kreitman test showed that the ratio of the number of nonsynonymous to synonymous polymorphic sites within P. falciparum was significantly higher than that of the number of nonsynonymous to synonymous fixed sites between P. falciparum and P. reichenowi. Furthermore, the rate of nonsynonymous substitution was significantly higher than that of synonymous substitution within Thai P. falciparum. These results indicate that the TRAP gene has been subject to diversifying selection in the Thai P. falciparum population as well as the Gambian P. falciparum population. Comparison of our P. falciparum isolates with those from another region of Thailand (Tak province, Thailand) revealed that TRAP was highly differentiated between geographically close regions. This rapid diversification seems to reflect strong recent positive selection on TRAP. Our results suggest that the TRAP molecule is a major target of the human immune response to pre-erythrocytic stages of P. falciparum.
PMCID: PMC3938765  PMID: 24587387
13.  New Susceptibility and Resistance HLA-DP Alleles to HBV-Related Diseases Identified by a Trans-Ethnic Association Study in Asia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86449.
Previous studies have revealed the association between SNPs located on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genes, including HLA-DP and HLA-DQ, and chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, mainly in Asian populations. HLA-DP alleles or haplotypes associated with chronic HBV infection or disease progression have not been fully identified in Asian populations. We performed trans-ethnic association analyses of HLA-DPA1, HLA-DPB1 alleles and haplotypes with hepatitis B virus infection and disease progression among Asian populations comprising Japanese, Korean, Hong Kong, and Thai subjects. To assess the association between HLA-DP and chronic HBV infection and disease progression, we conducted high-resolution (4-digit) HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1 genotyping in a total of 3,167 samples, including HBV patients, HBV-resolved individuals and healthy controls. Trans-ethnic association analyses among Asian populations identified a new risk allele HLA-DPB1*09∶01 (P = 1.36×10−6; OR = 1.97; 95% CI, 1.50–2.59) and a new protective allele DPB1*02∶01 (P = 5.22×10−6; OR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.58–0.81) to chronic HBV infection, in addition to the previously reported alleles. Moreover, DPB1*02∶01 was also associated with a decreased risk of disease progression in chronic HBV patients among Asian populations (P = 1.55×10−7; OR = 0.50; 95% CI, 0.39–0.65). Trans-ethnic association analyses identified Asian-specific associations of HLA-DP alleles and haplotypes with HBV infection or disease progression. The present findings will serve as a base for future functional studies of HLA-DP molecules in order to understand the pathogenesis of HBV infection and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3919706  PMID: 24520320
14.  Plasma Resistin Is Associated With Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms of a Possible Resistin Receptor, the Decorin Gene, in the General Japanese Population 
Diabetes  2013;62(2):649-652.
Resistin is an adipokine secreted from adipocytes in mice. We previously reported that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) –420 (rs1862513) in the human resistin gene (RETN), is correlated with plasma resistin. Decorin is a multifunctional proteoglycan, and its isoform, lacking 14 amino acids from the N terminal region of mature core decorin, recently was identified as a resistin receptor in mice. To examine whether SNPs in the vicinity of the human decorin gene (DCN) are associated with plasma resistin, we cross-sectionally analyzed six tag SNPs selected around DCN in the same linkage disequilibrium block in 2,078 community-dwelling Japanese subjects. Plasma resistin was associated with the rs7139228, rs7956537, rs516115, and rs3138167 genotypes in DCN. A multiple regression analysis revealed that the genotype of rs7308752 (G/G) or rs516115 (C/C) was associated with decreased plasma resistin after adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and the RETN SNP rs1862513. The effect of rs7139228 and rs1862513 seemed to be additive without synergistic interaction. Therefore, plasma resistin was associated with some tag SNPs around DCN in the general Japanese population. The possibility that human decorin is a human resistin receptor should be pursued.
PMCID: PMC3554371  PMID: 23193185
15.  Association of ADRB2 polymorphism with triglyceride levels in Tongans 
Our previous study demonstrated that the A-allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs34623097 located in the upstream region of the β2 adrenergic receptor gene (ADRB2) is significantly associated with risk for obesity in Oceanic populations.
To investigate whether the ADRB2 polymorphisms explain part of the individual differences in lipid mobilization, energy expenditure and glycogen breakdown, the associations of 10 ADRB2 SNPs with total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels were examined in 128 adults in Tonga.
A multiple linear regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index revealed that rs34623097 was significantly associated with triglyceride levels (P-value = 0.037). A copy of the rs34623097-A allele increased serum triglyceride levels by 70.1 mg/dL (0.791 mmol/L). None of the ADRB2 SNPs showed a significant association with total-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
In a Tongan population, a SNP located in the upstream region of ADRB2 is associated with triglyceride levels independent of body mass index.
PMCID: PMC3728115  PMID: 23875540
β2 adrenergic receptor gene; Body mass index; Polymorphism; Triglycerides
16.  Limited Geographical Origin and Global Spread of Sulfadoxine-Resistant dhps Alleles in Plasmodium falciparum Populations 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(12):1980-1988.
Background. Plasmodium falciparum malaria resistant to chloroquine and pyrimethamine originated in limited foci and migrated to Africa. It remains unresolved whether P. falciparum resistance to sulfadoxine, which is conferred by mutations in dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS), evolved following a similar pattern.
Methods. The dhps locus of 893 P. falciparum isolates from 12 countries in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and South America was sequenced. Haplotypes of 6 microsatellite loci flanking the dhps locus were determined to define the genetic relationships among sulfadoxine-resistant lineages.
Results. Six distinct sulfadoxine-resistant lineages were identified. Highly resistant lineages appear to have originated only in Southeast Asia and South America. Two resistant lineages found throughout Southeast Asia have been introduced to East Africa, where they appear to have spread.
Conclusions. The infrequent selection of parasites highly resistant to sulfadoxine and the subsequent migration of resistant lineages from Asia to Africa are similar to the patterns observed in chloroquine and pyrimethamine resistance. These findings strongly suggest that the global migration of resistant parasites has played a decisive role in the establishment of drug-resistant P. falciparum parasites, and that similar patterns may be anticipated for the spread of artemisinin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3209816  PMID: 22021623
17.  Evolutionary Analysis of Classical HLA Class I and II Genes Suggests That Recent Positive Selection Acted on DPB1*04∶01 in Japanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46806.
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes exhibit the highest degree of polymorphism in the human genome. This high degree of variation at classical HLA class I and class II loci has been maintained by balancing selection for a long evolutionary time. However, little is known about recent positive selection acting on specific HLA alleles in a local population. To detect the signature of recent positive selection, we genotyped six HLA loci, HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DRB1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DPB1 in 418 Japanese subjects, and then assessed the haplotype homozygosity (HH) of each HLA allele. There were 120 HLA alleles across the six loci. Among the 80 HLA alleles with frequencies of more than 1%, DPB1*04∶01, which had a frequency of 6.1%, showed exceptionally high HH (0.53). This finding raises the possibility that recent positive selection has acted on DPB1*04∶01. The DPB1*04∶01 allele, which was present in the most common 6-locus HLA haplotype (4.4%), A*33∶03-C*14∶03-B*44∶03-DRB1*13∶02-DQB1*06∶04-DPB1*04∶01, seems to have flowed from the Korean peninsula to the Japanese archipelago in the Yayoi period. A stochastic simulation approach indicated that the strong linkage disequilibrium between DQB1*06∶04 and DPB1*04∶01 observed in Japanese cannot be explained without positive selection favoring DPB1*04∶01. The selection coefficient of DPB1*04∶01 was estimated as 0.041 (95% credible interval 0.021–0.077). Our results suggest that DPB1*04∶01 has recently undergone strong positive selection in Japanese population.
PMCID: PMC3463557  PMID: 23056460
18.  Association of Human Leukocyte Antigen with Interstitial Lung Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Protective Role for Shared Epitope 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e33133.
Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is frequently associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) as one of extra-articular manifestations. Many studies for Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) allelic association with RA have been reported, but few have been validated in an RA subpopulation with ILD. In this study, we investigated the association of HLA class II alleles with ILD in RA.
An association study was conducted on HLA-DRB1, DQB1, and DPB1 in 450 Japanese RA patients that were or were not diagnosed with ILD, based on the findings of computed tomography images of the chest.
Unexpectedly, HLA-DRB1*04 (corrected P [Pc] = 0.0054, odds ratio [OR] 0.57), shared epitope (SE) (P = 0.0055, OR 0.66) and DQB1*04 (Pc = 0.0036, OR 0.57) were associated with significantly decreased risk of ILD. In contrast, DRB1*16 (Pc = 0.0372, OR 15.21), DR2 serological group (DRB1*15 and *16 alleles) (P = 0.0020, OR 1.75) and DQB1*06 (Pc = 0.0333, OR 1.57, respectively) were significantly associated with risk of ILD.
HLA-DRB1 SE was associated with reduced, while DR2 serological group (DRB1*15 and *16) with increased, risk for ILD in Japanese patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC3346749  PMID: 22586441
19.  Significant Association of KIR2DL3-HLA-C1 Combination with Cerebral Malaria and Implications for Co-evolution of KIR and HLA 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(3):e1002565.
Cerebral malaria is a major, life-threatening complication of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and has very high mortality rate. In murine malaria models, natural killer (NK) cell responses have been shown to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria. To investigate the role of NK cells in the developmental process of human cerebral malaria, we conducted a case-control study examining genotypes for killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I ligands in 477 malaria patients. We found that the combination of KIR2DL3 and its cognate HLA-C1 ligand was significantly associated with the development of cerebral malaria when compared with non-cerebral malaria (odds ratio 3.14, 95% confidence interval 1.52–6.48, P = 0.00079, corrected P = 0.02). In contrast, no other KIR-HLA pairs showed a significant association with cerebral malaria, suggesting that the NK cell repertoire shaped by the KIR2DL3-HLA-C1 interaction shows certain functional responses that facilitate development of cerebral malaria. Furthermore, the frequency of the KIR2DL3-HLA-C1 combination was found to be significantly lower in malaria high-endemic populations. These results suggest that natural selection has reduced the frequency of the KIR2DL3-HLA-C1 combination in malaria high-endemic populations because of the propensity of interaction between KIR2DL3 and C1 to favor development of cerebral malaria. Our findings provide one possible explanation for KIR-HLA co-evolution driven by a microbial pathogen, and its effect on the global distribution of malaria, KIR and HLA.
Author Summary
NK cells play an important role in early defense against pathogens. Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are a diverse family of activating and inhibitory receptors expressed on human NK cells. Some inhibitory KIRs recognize human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules as their ligands. The KIR loci exhibit presence or absence polymorphism, and thus, some individuals lack particular KIR-HLA receptor-ligand pairs, which affects their NK cell responses. We herein show that presence of both KIR2DL3 and its cognate HLA-C1 ligand in malaria patients was strongly associated with the development of human cerebral malaria. This result suggests that NK cells from the patients carrying both KIR2DL3 and HLA-C1 exhibit functional responses that facilitate development of cerebral malaria. In addition, the gene frequency of the KIR2DL3 and HLA-C1 combination was found to be significantly lower in populations with high-endemic malaria. These observations suggest that the combination of KIR2DL3 and HLA-C1 has decreased in malaria high-endemic populations under selection from cerebral malaria, a major life-threatening complication of Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
PMCID: PMC3297587  PMID: 22412373
20.  Association of ADAMTS13 polymorphism with cerebral malaria 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:366.
Cerebral malaria is one of the most severe manifestations of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The sequestration of parasitized red blood cells (PRBCs) to brain microvascular endothelium has been shown to contribute to the pathophysiology of cerebral malaria. Recent studies reported increased levels of von Willebrand factor (VWF) and reduced activity of VWF-cleaving protease, ADAMTS13 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif, member 13), in patients with cerebral malaria.
Association of six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the ADAMTS13 gene with cerebral malaria was examined in 708 Thai patients with P. falciparum malaria.
Among six SNPs, the derived allele of a SNP located in intron 28, rs4962153-A, was significantly associated with protection against cerebral malaria when 115 cerebral malaria patients were compared with 367 mild malaria patients (Fisher's exact P-value = 0.0057; OR = 0.27; 95% CI = 0.096-0.76). Significant association was also detected between 115 cerebral malaria and 593 non-cerebral malaria (226 non-cerebral severe malaria and 367 mild malaria) patients (Fisher's exact P-value = 0.012; OR = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.11-0.83).
Excessive adhesion of PRBCs to the platelet-decorated ultra-large VWF (ULVWF) appears to enhance the sequestration of PRBCs to cerebral microvascular endothelium. The genetic association observed in the present study implies that the regulation of platelet-decorated ULVWF strings by ADAMTS13 may play a role in the development of cerebral malaria.
PMCID: PMC3261218  PMID: 22168261
21.  Association of IFNGR2 gene polymorphisms with pulmonary tuberculosis among the Vietnamese 
Human Genetics  2011;131(5):675-682.
Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) is a key molecule of T helper 1 (Th1)-immune response against tuberculosis (TB), and rare genetic defects of IFN-γ receptors cause disseminated mycobacterial infection. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether genetic polymorphisms found in the Th1-immune response genes play a role in TB. In our study, DNA samples were collected from two series of cases including 832 patients with new smear-positive TB and 506 unrelated individuals with no history of TB in the general population of Hanoi, Vietnam. Alleles of eight microsatellite markers located around Th1-immune response-related genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms near the promising microsatellites were genotyped. A set of polymorphisms within the interferon gamma receptor 2 gene (IFNGR2) showed a significant association with protection against TB (P = 0.00054). Resistant alleles tend to be less frequently found in younger age at diagnosis (P = 0.011). Luciferase assays revealed high transcriptional activity of the promoter segment in linkage disequilibrium with resistant alleles. We conclude that the polymorphisms of IFNGR2 may confer resistance to the TB development of newly infected individuals. Contribution of the genetic factors to TB appeared to be different depending on age at diagnosis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-011-1112-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3325415  PMID: 22057826
22.  No Evidence for Strong Recent Positive Selection Favoring the 7 Repeat Allele of VNTR in the DRD4 Gene 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e24410.
The human dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene contains a 48-bp variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) in exon 3, encoding the third intracellular loop of this dopamine receptor. The DRD4 7R allele, which seems to have a single origin, is commonly observed in various human populations and the nucleotide diversity of the DRD4 7R haplotype at the DRD4 locus is reduced compared to the most common DRD4 4R haplotype. Based on these observations, previous studies have hypothesized that positive selection has acted on the DRD4 7R allele. However, the degrees of linkage disequilibrium (LD) of the DRD4 7R allele with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) outside the DRD4 locus have not been evaluated. In this study, to re-examine the possibility of recent positive selection favoring the DRD4 7R allele, we genotyped HapMap subjects for DRD4 VNTR, and conducted several neutrality tests including long range haplotype test and iHS test based on the extended haplotype homozygosity. Our results indicated that LD of the DRD4 7R allele was not extended compared to SNP alleles with the similar frequency. Thus, we conclude that the DRD4 7R allele has not been subjected to strong recent positive selection.
PMCID: PMC3164202  PMID: 21909391
23.  Strong linkage disequilibrium of a HbE variant with the (AT)9(T)5 repeat in the BP1 binding site upstream of the β-globin gene in the Thai population 
Journal of human genetics  2004;50(1):7-11.
A binding site for the repressor protein BP1, which contains a tandem (AT)x(T)y repeat, is located approximately 530 bp 5′ to the human β-globin gene (HBB). There is accumulating evidence that BP1 binds to the (AT)9(T)5 allele more strongly than to other alleles, thereby reducing the expression of HBB. In this study, we investigated polymorphisms in the (AT)x(T)y repeat in 57 individuals living in Thailand, including three homozygotes for the hemoglobin E variant (HbE; β26Glu->Lys), 22 heterozygotes, and 32 normal homozygotes. We found that (AT)9(T)5 and (AT)7(T)7 alleles were predominant in the studied population and that the HbE variant is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the (AT)9(T)5 allele, which can explain why the βE chain is inefficiently synthesized compared to the normal βA chain. Moreover, the mildness of the HbE disease compared to other hemoglobinopathies in Thai may be due, in part, to the presence of the (AT)9(T)5 repeat on the HbE chromosome. In addition, a novel (AC)n polymorphism adjacent to the (AT)x(T)y repeat (i.e., (AC)3(AT)7(T)5) was found through the variation screening in this study.
PMCID: PMC3114417  PMID: 15551156
HbE; Thai; (AT)x(T)y repeat; Linkage disequilibrium; BPI
24.  Testing the thrifty gene hypothesis: the Gly482Ser variant in PPARGC1A is associated with BMI in Tongans 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:10.
The thrifty gene hypothesis posits that, in populations that experienced periods of feast and famine, natural selection favoured individuals carrying thrifty alleles that promote the storage of fat and energy. Polynesians likely experienced long periods of cold stress and starvation during their settlement of the Pacific and today have high rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM), possibly due to past positive selection for thrifty alleles. Alternatively, T2DM risk alleles may simply have drifted to high frequency in Polynesians. To identify thrifty alleles in Polynesians, we previously examined evidence of positive selection on T2DM-associated SNPs and identified a T2DM risk allele at unusually high frequency in Polynesians. We suggested that the risk allele of the Gly482Ser variant in the PPARGC1A gene was driven to high frequency in Polynesians by positive selection and therefore possibly represented a thrifty allele in the Pacific.
Here we examine whether PPARGC1A is a thrifty gene in Pacific populations by testing for an association between Gly482Ser genotypes and BMI in two Pacific populations (Maori and Tongans) and by evaluating the frequency of the risk allele of the Gly482Ser variant in a sample of worldwide populations.
We find that the Gly482Ser variant is associated with BMI in Tongans but not in Maori. In a sample of 58 populations worldwide, we also show that the 482Ser risk allele reaches its highest frequency in the Pacific.
The association between Gly482Ser genotypes and BMI in Tongans together with the worldwide frequency distribution of the Gly482Ser risk allele suggests that PPARGC1A remains a candidate thrifty gene in Pacific populations.
PMCID: PMC3025936  PMID: 21244673
25.  Association of TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1, TNIP1 with systemic lupus erythematosus in a Japanese population: a case-control association study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R174.
TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1, TNIP1 (ABIN-1) is involved in inhibition of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation by interacting with TNF alpha-induced protein 3, A20 (TNFAIP3), an established susceptibility gene to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent genome-wide association studies revealed association of TNIP1 with SLE in the Caucasian and Chinese populations. In this study, we investigated whether the association of TNIP1 with SLE was replicated in a Japanese population. In addition, association of TNIP1 with RA was also examined.
A case-control association study was conducted on the TNIP1 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7708392 in 364 Japanese SLE patients, 553 RA patients and 513 healthy controls.
Association of TNIP1 rs7708392C was replicated in Japanese SLE (allele frequency in SLE: 76.5%, control: 69.9%, P = 0.0022, odds ratio [OR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13-1.74). Notably, the risk allele frequency in the healthy controls was considerably greater in Japanese (69.9%) than in Caucasians (24.3%). A tendency of stronger association was observed in the SLE patients with renal disorder (P = 0.00065, OR 1.60 [95%CI 1.22-2.10]) than in all SLE patients (P = 0.0022, OR 1.40 [95%CI 1.13-1.74]). Significant association with RA was not observed, regardless of the carriage of human leukocyte antigen DR β1 (HLA-DRB1) shared epitope. Significant gene-gene interaction between TNIP1 and TNFAIP3 was detected neither in SLE nor RA.
Association of TNIP1 with SLE was confirmed in a Japanese population. TNIP1 is a shared SLE susceptibility gene in the Caucasian and Asian populations, but the genetic contribution appeared to be greater in the Japanese and Chinese populations because of the higher risk allele frequency. Taken together with the association of TNFAIP3, these observations underscore the crucial role of NF-κB regulation in the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC2991001  PMID: 20849588

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