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2.  Implication of IL-2/IL-21 region in systemic sclerosis genetic susceptibility 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(7):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202357.
Objective
The interleukin 2 (IL-2) and interleukin 21 (IL-21) locus at chromosome 4q27 has been associated with several autoimmune diseases, and both genes are related to immune system functions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of the IL-2/IL-21 locus in systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Patients and methods
The case control study included 4493 SSc Caucasian patients and 5856 healthy controls from eight Caucasian populations (Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, USA, Italy, Sweden, UK and Norway). Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs2069762, rs6822844, rs6835457 and rs907715) were genotyped using TaqMan allelic discrimination assays.
Results
We observed evidence of association of the rs6822844 and rs907715 variants with global SSc (pc=6.6E-4 and pc=7.2E-3, respectively). Similar statistically significant associations were observed for the limited cutaneous form of the disease. The conditional regression analysis suggested that the most likely genetic variation responsible for the association was the rs6822844 polymorphism. Consistently, the rs2069762A-rs6822844T-rs6835457G-rs907715T allelic combination showed evidence of association with SSc and limited cutaneous SSc subtype (pc=1.7E-03 and pc=8E-4, respectively).
Conclusions
These results suggested that the IL-2/IL-21 locus influences the genetic susceptibility to SSc. Moreover, this study provided further support for the IL-2/IL-21 locus as a common genetic factor in autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202357
PMCID: PMC3887514  PMID: 23172754
3.  Integration of Sequence Data from a Consanguineous Family with Genetic Data from an Outbred Population Identifies PLB1 as a Candidate Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Gene 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87645.
Integrating genetic data from families with highly penetrant forms of disease together with genetic data from outbred populations represents a promising strategy to uncover the complete frequency spectrum of risk alleles for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we demonstrate that rare, low-frequency and common alleles at one gene locus, phospholipase B1 (PLB1), might contribute to risk of RA in a 4-generation consanguineous pedigree (Middle Eastern ancestry) and also in unrelated individuals from the general population (European ancestry). Through identity-by-descent (IBD) mapping and whole-exome sequencing, we identified a non-synonymous c.2263G>C (p.G755R) mutation at the PLB1 gene on 2q23, which significantly co-segregated with RA in family members with a dominant mode of inheritance (P = 0.009). We further evaluated PLB1 variants and risk of RA using a GWAS meta-analysis of 8,875 RA cases and 29,367 controls of European ancestry. We identified significant contributions of two independent non-coding variants near PLB1 with risk of RA (rs116018341 [MAF = 0.042] and rs116541814 [MAF = 0.021], combined P = 3.2×10−6). Finally, we performed deep exon sequencing of PLB1 in 1,088 RA cases and 1,088 controls (European ancestry), and identified suggestive dispersion of rare protein-coding variant frequencies between cases and controls (P = 0.049 for C-alpha test and P = 0.055 for SKAT). Together, these data suggest that PLB1 is a candidate risk gene for RA. Future studies to characterize the full spectrum of genetic risk in the PLB1 genetic locus are warranted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087645
PMCID: PMC3919745  PMID: 24520335
4.  A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa 
Boraska, Vesna | Franklin, Christopher S | Floyd, James AB | Thornton, Laura M | Huckins, Laura M | Southam, Lorraine | Rayner, N William | Tachmazidou, Ioanna | Klump, Kelly L | Treasure, Janet | Lewis, Cathryn M | Schmidt, Ulrike | Tozzi, Federica | Kiezebrink, Kirsty | Hebebrand, Johannes | Gorwood, Philip | Adan, Roger AH | Kas, Martien JH | Favaro, Angela | Santonastaso, Paolo | Fernández-Aranda, Fernando | Gratacos, Monica | Rybakowski, Filip | Dmitrzak-Weglarz, Monika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Keski-Rahkonen, Anna | Raevuori, Anu | Van Furth, Eric F | Slof-Op t Landt, Margarita CT | Hudson, James I | Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ted | Knudsen, Gun Peggy S | Monteleone, Palmiero | Kaplan, Allan S | Karwautz, Andreas | Hakonarson, Hakon | Berrettini, Wade H | Guo, Yiran | Li, Dong | Schork, Nicholas J. | Komaki, Gen | Ando, Tetsuya | Inoko, Hidetoshi | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Männik, Katrin | Metspalu, Andres | Baker, Jessica H | Cone, Roger D | Dackor, Jennifer | DeSocio, Janiece E | Hilliard, Christopher E | O’Toole, Julie K | Pantel, Jacques | Szatkiewicz, Jin P | Taico, Chrysecolla | Zerwas, Stephanie | Trace, Sara E | Davis, Oliver SP | Helder, Sietske | Bühren, Katharina | Burghardt, Roland | de Zwaan, Martina | Egberts, Karin | Ehrlich, Stefan | Herpertz-Dahlmann, Beate | Herzog, Wolfgang | Imgart, Hartmut | Scherag, André | Scherag, Susann | Zipfel, Stephan | Boni, Claudette | Ramoz, Nicolas | Versini, Audrey | Brandys, Marek K | Danner, Unna N | de Kovel, Carolien | Hendriks, Judith | Koeleman, Bobby PC | Ophoff, Roel A | Strengman, Eric | van Elburg, Annemarie A | Bruson, Alice | Clementi, Maurizio | Degortes, Daniela | Forzan, Monica | Tenconi, Elena | Docampo, Elisa | Escaramís, Geòrgia | Jiménez-Murcia, Susana | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rajewski, Andrzej | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila | Slopien, Agnieszka | Hauser, Joanna | Karhunen, Leila | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Slagboom, P Eline | Tortorella, Alfonso | Maj, Mario | Dedoussis, George | Dikeos, Dimitris | Gonidakis, Fragiskos | Tziouvas, Konstantinos | Tsitsika, Artemis | Papezova, Hana | Slachtova, Lenka | Martaskova, Debora | Kennedy, James L. | Levitan, Robert D. | Yilmaz, Zeynep | Huemer, Julia | Koubek, Doris | Merl, Elisabeth | Wagner, Gudrun | Lichtenstein, Paul | Breen, Gerome | Cohen-Woods, Sarah | Farmer, Anne | McGuffin, Peter | Cichon, Sven | Giegling, Ina | Herms, Stefan | Rujescu, Dan | Schreiber, Stefan | Wichmann, H-Erich | Dina, Christian | Sladek, Rob | Gambaro, Giovanni | Soranzo, Nicole | Julia, Antonio | Marsal, Sara | Rabionet, Raquel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Dick, Danielle M | Palotie, Aarno | Ripatti, Samuli | Widén, Elisabeth | Andreassen, Ole A | Espeseth, Thomas | Lundervold, Astri | Reinvang, Ivar | Steen, Vidar M | Le Hellard, Stephanie | Mattingsdal, Morten | Ntalla, Ioanna | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Navratilova, Marie | Gallinger, Steven | Pinto, Dalila | Scherer, Stephen | Aschauer, Harald | Carlberg, Laura | Schosser, Alexandra | Alfredsson, Lars | Ding, Bo | Klareskog, Lars | Padyukov, Leonid | Finan, Chris | Kalsi, Gursharan | Roberts, Marion | Logan, Darren W | Peltonen, Leena | Ritchie, Graham RS | Barrett, Jeffrey C | Estivill, Xavier | Hinney, Anke | Sullivan, Patrick F | Collier, David A | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Bulik, Cynthia M
Molecular psychiatry  2010;16(9):10.1038/mp.2010.107.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex and heritable eating disorder characterized by dangerously low body weight. Neither candidate gene studies nor an initial genome wide association study (GWAS) have yielded significant and replicated results. We performed a GWAS in 2,907 cases with AN from 14 countries (15 sites) and 14,860 ancestrally matched controls as part of the Genetic Consortium for AN (GCAN) and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 3 (WTCCC3). Individual association analyses were conducted in each stratum and meta-analyzed across all 15 discovery datasets. Seventy-six (72 independent) SNPs were taken forward for in silico (two datasets) or de novo (13 datasets) replication genotyping in 2,677 independent AN cases and 8,629 European ancestry controls along with 458 AN cases and 421 controls from Japan. The final global meta-analysis across discovery and replication datasets comprised 5,551 AN cases and 21,080 controls. AN subtype analyses (1,606 AN restricting; 1,445 AN binge-purge) were performed. No findings reached genome-wide significance. Two intronic variants were suggestively associated: rs9839776 (P=3.01×10−7) in SOX2OT and rs17030795 (P=5.84×10−6) in PPP3CA. Two additional signals were specific to Europeans: rs1523921 (P=5.76×10−6) between CUL3 and FAM124B and rs1886797 (P=8.05×10−6) near SPATA13. Comparing discovery to replication results, 76% of the effects were in the same direction, an observation highly unlikely to be due to chance (P= 4×10−6), strongly suggesting that true findings exist but that our sample, the largest yet reported, was underpowered for their detection. The accrual of large genotyped AN case-control samples should be an immediate priority for the field.
doi:10.1038/mp.2010.107
PMCID: PMC3859494  PMID: 21079607
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; GWAS; genome-wide association study; body mass index; metabolic
5.  Dense genotyping of immune-related disease regions identifies nine new risk loci for primary sclerosing cholangitis 
Liu, Jimmy Z. | Hov, Johannes Roksund | Folseraas, Trine | Ellinghaus, Eva | Rushbrook, Simon M. | Doncheva, Nadezhda T. | Andreassen, Ole A. | Weersma, Rinse K. | Weismüller, Tobias J. | Eksteen, Bertus | Invernizzi, Pietro | Hirschfield, Gideon M. | Gotthardt, Daniel Nils | Pares, Albert | Ellinghaus, David | Shah, Tejas | Juran, Brian D. | Milkiewicz, Piotr | Rust, Christian | Schramm, Christoph | Müller, Tobias | Srivastava, Brijesh | Dalekos, Georgios | Nöthen, Markus M. | Herms, Stefan | Winkelmann, Juliane | Mitrovic, Mitja | Braun, Felix | Ponsioen, Cyriel Y. | Croucher, Peter J. P. | Sterneck, Martina | Teufel, Andreas | Mason, Andrew L. | Saarela, Janna | Leppa, Virpi | Dorfman, Ruslan | Alvaro, Domenico | Floreani, Annarosa | Onengut-Gumuscu, Suna | Rich, Stephen S. | Thompson, Wesley K. | Schork, Andrew J. | Næss, Sigrid | Thomsen, Ingo | Mayr, Gabriele | König, Inke R. | Hveem, Kristian | Cleynen, Isabelle | Gutierrez-Achury, Javier | Ricaño-Ponce, Isis | van Heel, David | Björnsson, Einar | Sandford, Richard N. | Durie, Peter R. | Melum, Espen | Vatn, Morten H | Silverberg, Mark S. | Duerr, Richard H. | Padyukov, Leonid | Brand, Stephan | Sans, Miquel | Annese, Vito | Achkar, Jean-Paul | Boberg, Kirsten Muri | Marschall, Hanns-Ulrich | Chazouillères, Olivier | Bowlus, Christopher L. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Schrumpf, Erik | Vermeire, Severine | Albrecht, Mario | Rioux, John D. | Alexander, Graeme | Bergquist, Annika | Cho, Judy | Schreiber, Stefan | Manns, Michael P. | Färkkilä, Martti | Dale, Anders M. | Chapman, Roger W. | Lazaridis, Konstantinos N. | Franke, Andre | Anderson, Carl A. | Karlsen, Tom H.
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):670-675.
doi:10.1038/ng.2616
PMCID: PMC3667736  PMID: 23603763
genetic association study; disease genetics; immunogenetics; liver
6.  A Research Study of the Association between Maternal Microchimerism and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Adults: A Comparison between Patients and Healthy Controls Based on Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Using Quantitative Real-Time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74534.
Background
Naturally acquired microchimerism may arise in the mother and her child during pregnancy when bidirectional trafficking of cells occurs through the placental barrier. The occurrence of maternal microchimerism (maternal cells in the offspring) has been associated with several autoimmune diseases, especially in children. Systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder with a resemblance to graft-versus-host disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between maternal microchimerism in the blood and SLE.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Thirty-two patients with SLE, 17 healthy brothers of the patients, and an additional 12 unrelated healthy men were the subjects in this study. A single-nucleotide polymorphism unique to each mother was identified, and maternal microchimerism in the study group and in the control group was detected using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction technique. No differences in the frequency or the concentration of maternal cells were apparent in the blood of patients with SLE or in that of the controls. Two patients and one control tested positive for maternal microchimerism, but the positive subjects were all negative at a follow-up 16 years later. The sensitivity of the method was estimated to 1/10.000.
Conclusions/Significance
These results show no association between SLE and maternal microchimerism. The frequency of maternal microchimerism in the blood of adults overall may be lower than earlier reported.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074534
PMCID: PMC3770650  PMID: 24040274
7.  Genes identified in Asian SLE GWASs are also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in Asian populations have identified novel risk loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here, we genotyped 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight such loci and investigated their disease associations in three independent Caucasian SLE case–control cohorts recruited from Sweden, Finland and the United States. The disease associations of the SNPs in ETS1, IKZF1, LRRC18-WDFY4, RASGRP3, SLC15A4, TNIP1 and 16p11.2 were replicated, whereas no solid evidence of association was observed for the 7q11.23 locus in the Caucasian cohorts. SLC15A4 was significantly associated with renal involvement in SLE. The association of TNIP1 was more pronounced in SLE patients with renal and immunological disorder, which is corroborated by two previous studies in Asian cohorts. The effects of all the associated SNPs, either conferring risk for or being protective against SLE, were in the same direction in Caucasians and Asians. The magnitudes of the allelic effects for most of the SNPs were also comparable across different ethnic groups. On the contrary, remarkable differences in allele frequencies between Caucasian and Asian populations were observed for all associated SNPs. In conclusion, most of the novel SLE risk loci identified by GWASs in Asian populations were also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations. We observed both similarities and differences with respect to the effect sizes and risk allele frequencies across ethnicities.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.277
PMCID: PMC3746253  PMID: 23249952
systemic lupus erythematosus; genetic-association study; Asian; Caucasian
8.  Epigenome-wide association data implicate DNA methylation as an intermediary of genetic risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Nature biotechnology  2013;31(2):142-147.
Epigenetic mechanisms integrate genetic and environmental causes of disease. Comprehensive genome-wide analyses of epigenetic modifications have not demonstrated robust association with common diseases. Using Illumina HumanMethylation450 arrays on 354 ACPA positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cases and 337 controls, we identified two clusters within the MHC region whose differential methylation potentially mediates genetic risk for RA. To reduce confounding hampering previous epigenome-wide studies, we corrected for cellular heterogeneity by estimating and adjusting for cell-type proportions and used mediation analysis to filter out associations likely consequential to disease. Four CpGs also showed association between genotype and variance of methylation in addition to mean. The associations for both clusters replicated at least one CpG (p<0.01), with the rest showing suggestive association, in monocytes in an independent 12 cases and 12 controls. Thus, DNA methylation is a potential mediator of genetic risk.
doi:10.1038/nbt.2487
PMCID: PMC3598632  PMID: 23334450
9.  High density genetic mapping identifies new susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1336-1340.
Summary
Using the Immunochip custom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, designed for dense genotyping of 186 genome wide association study (GWAS) confirmed loci we analysed 11,475 rheumatoid arthritis cases of European ancestry and 15,870 controls for 129,464 markers. The data were combined in meta-analysis with GWAS data from additional independent cases (n=2,363) and controls (n=17,872). We identified fourteen novel loci; nine were associated with rheumatoid arthritis overall and 5 specifically in anti-citrillunated peptide antibody positive disease, bringing the number of confirmed European ancestry rheumatoid arthritis loci to 46. We refined the peak of association to a single gene for 19 loci, identified secondary independent effects at six loci and association to low frequency variants (minor allele frequency <0.05) at 4 loci. Bioinformatic analysis of the data generated strong hypotheses for the causal SNP at seven loci. This study illustrates the advantages of dense SNP mapping analysis to inform subsequent functional investigations.
doi:10.1038/ng.2462
PMCID: PMC3605761  PMID: 23143596
10.  Human Genetics in Rheumatoid Arthritis Guides a High-Throughput Drug Screen of the CD40 Signaling Pathway 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(5):e1003487.
Although genetic and non-genetic studies in mouse and human implicate the CD40 pathway in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are no approved drugs that inhibit CD40 signaling for clinical care in RA or any other disease. Here, we sought to understand the biological consequences of a CD40 risk variant in RA discovered by a previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) and to perform a high-throughput drug screen for modulators of CD40 signaling based on human genetic findings. First, we fine-map the CD40 risk locus in 7,222 seropositive RA patients and 15,870 controls, together with deep sequencing of CD40 coding exons in 500 RA cases and 650 controls, to identify a single SNP that explains the entire signal of association (rs4810485, P = 1.4×10−9). Second, we demonstrate that subjects homozygous for the RA risk allele have ∼33% more CD40 on the surface of primary human CD19+ B lymphocytes than subjects homozygous for the non-risk allele (P = 10−9), a finding corroborated by expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 1,469 healthy control individuals. Third, we use retroviral shRNA infection to perturb the amount of CD40 on the surface of a human B lymphocyte cell line (BL2) and observe a direct correlation between amount of CD40 protein and phosphorylation of RelA (p65), a subunit of the NF-κB transcription factor. Finally, we develop a high-throughput NF-κB luciferase reporter assay in BL2 cells activated with trimerized CD40 ligand (tCD40L) and conduct an HTS of 1,982 chemical compounds and FDA–approved drugs. After a series of counter-screens and testing in primary human CD19+ B cells, we identify 2 novel chemical inhibitors not previously implicated in inflammation or CD40-mediated NF-κB signaling. Our study demonstrates proof-of-concept that human genetics can be used to guide the development of phenotype-based, high-throughput small-molecule screens to identify potential novel therapies in complex traits such as RA.
Author Summary
A current challenge in human genetics is to follow-up “hits” from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to guide drug discovery for complex traits. Previously, we identified a common variant in the CD40 locus as associated with risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we fine-map the CD40 signal of association through a combination of dense genotyping and exonic sequencing in large patient collections. Further, we demonstrate that the RA risk allele is a gain-of-function allele that increases the amount of CD40 on the surface of primary human B lymphocyte cells from healthy control individuals. Based on these observations, we develop a high-throughput assay to recapitulate the biology of the RA risk allele in a system suitable for a small molecule drug screen. After a series of primary screens and counter screens, we identify small molecules that inhibit CD40-mediated NF-kB signaling in human B cells. While this is only the first step towards a more comprehensive effort to identify CD40-specific inhibitors that may be used to treat RA, our study demonstrates a successful strategy to progress from a GWAS to a drug screen for complex traits such as RA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003487
PMCID: PMC3656093  PMID: 23696745
11.  Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Allele PTPRC Is Also Associated With Response to Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor α Therapy 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(7):1849-1861.
Objective
Anti–tumor necrosis factor α (anti-TNF) therapy is a mainstay of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to test established RA genetic risk factors to determine whether the same alleles also influence the response to anti-TNF therapy.
Methods
A total of 1,283 RA patients receiving etanercept, infliximab, or adalimumab therapy were studied from among an international collaborative consortium of 9 different RA cohorts. The primary end point compared RA patients with a good treatment response according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria (n = 505) with RA patients considered to be nonresponders (n = 316). The secondary end point was the change from baseline in the level of disease activity according to the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (ΔDAS28). Clinical factors such as age, sex, and concomitant medications were tested as possible correlates of treatment response. Thirty-one single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the risk of RA were genotyped and tested for any association with treatment response, using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
Results
Of the 31 RA-associated risk alleles, a SNP at the PTPRC (also known as CD45) gene locus (rs10919563) was associated with the primary end point, a EULAR good response versus no response (odds ratio [OR] 0.55, P = 0.0001 in the multivariate model). Similar results were obtained using the secondary end point, the ΔDAS28 (P = 0.0002). There was suggestive evidence of a stronger association in autoantibody-positive patients with RA (OR 0.55, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.39–0.76) as compared with autoantibody-negative patients (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.41–1.99).
Conclusion
Statistically significant associations were observed between the response to anti-TNF therapy and an RA risk allele at the PTPRC gene locus. Additional studies will be required to replicate this finding in additional patient collections.
doi:10.1002/art.27457
PMCID: PMC3652476  PMID: 20309874
12.  Genome-Wide Association Study and Gene Expression Analysis Identifies CD84 as a Predictor of Response to Etanercept Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003394.
Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNF) biologic therapy is a widely used treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is unknown why some RA patients fail to respond adequately to anti-TNF therapy, which limits the development of clinical biomarkers to predict response or new drugs to target refractory cases. To understand the biological basis of response to anti-TNF therapy, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of more than 2 million common variants in 2,706 RA patients from 13 different collections. Patients were treated with one of three anti-TNF medications: etanercept (n = 733), infliximab (n = 894), or adalimumab (n = 1,071). We identified a SNP (rs6427528) at the 1q23 locus that was associated with change in disease activity score (ΔDAS) in the etanercept subset of patients (P = 8×10−8), but not in the infliximab or adalimumab subsets (P>0.05). The SNP is predicted to disrupt transcription factor binding site motifs in the 3′ UTR of an immune-related gene, CD84, and the allele associated with better response to etanercept was associated with higher CD84 gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (P = 1×10−11 in 228 non-RA patients and P = 0.004 in 132 RA patients). Consistent with the genetic findings, higher CD84 gene expression correlated with lower cross-sectional DAS (P = 0.02, n = 210) and showed a non-significant trend for better ΔDAS in a subset of RA patients with gene expression data (n = 31, etanercept-treated). A small, multi-ethnic replication showed a non-significant trend towards an association among etanercept-treated RA patients of Portuguese ancestry (n = 139, P = 0.4), but no association among patients of Japanese ancestry (n = 151, P = 0.8). Our study demonstrates that an allele associated with response to etanercept therapy is also associated with CD84 gene expression, and further that CD84 expression correlates with disease activity. These findings support a model in which CD84 genotypes and/or expression may serve as a useful biomarker for response to etanercept treatment in RA patients of European ancestry.
Author Summary
There are no genetic predictors of response to one of the most widely used classes of drugs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis—biological modifiers of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (or anti-TNF therapy). To identify genetic predictors, we performed the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date as part of an international collaboration. In our study, which included 2,706 RA patients treated with one of three anti-TNF drugs, the most significant finding was restricted to RA patients treated with etanercept (P = 8×10−8), a drug that acts as a soluble receptor to bind circulating cytokine and prevents TNF from binding to its cell surface receptor. The associated variant influences expression of a nearby immune-related gene, CD84, whose expression is correlated with disease activity in RA patients. Together, our data support a model in which genomic factors related to CD84 expression serve as a predictor of disease activity and response to etanercept therapy among RA patients of European ancestry, but not anti-TNF therapies that act through different biological mechanisms or potentially in RA patients of other genetic ancestries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003394
PMCID: PMC3610685  PMID: 23555300
13.  STAT4 Regulates Antiviral Gamma Interferon Responses and Recurrent Disease during Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(17):9409-9415.
STAT4 is an important transcription factor that contributes to the incidence and severity of different autoimmune diseases and is implicated in the antiviral immune responses in mice. In this study, we evaluated the role of STAT4 in human and murine herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) infections. We show that STAT4 regulates antiviral gamma interferon (IFN-γ) responses and disease severity during chronic HSV-2 infections in humans and vaccine-induced IFN-γ-mediated protection against HSV-2 infection in mice. In a cohort of 228 HSV-2-infected individuals, representing both patients with recurrent disease and asymptomatic HSV-2 carriers, we found that genetic variations in the STAT4 gene were associated with asymptomatic HSV-2 infection, as well as with increased in vitro secretion of IFN-γ in response to the virus. Mice that lacked STAT4 had impaired HSV-2-specific IFN-γ production and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses following vaccination, which led to impaired viral clearance in the genital tract of vaccinated animals after a genital HSV-2 challenge. We conclude that STAT4 plays an important role in IFN-γ-mediated HSV-2-specific immunity, affecting the severity of genital HSV-2 infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00947-12
PMCID: PMC3416106  PMID: 22718836
14.  Polymorphisms in peptidylarginine deiminase associate with rheumatoid arthritis in diverse Asian populations: evidence from MyEIRA study and meta-analysis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R250.
Introduction
The majority of our knowledge regarding disease-related mechanisms of uncontrolled citrullination and anti-citrullinated protein antibody development in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was investigated in Caucasian populations. However, peptidylarginine deiminase (PADI) type 4 gene polymorphisms are associated with RA in East Asian populations and weak or no association was found in Caucasian populations. This study explores the association between the PADI4 polymorphisms and RA risk in a multiethnic population residing in South East Asia with the goal of elucidating generalizability of association in non-Caucasian populations.
Methods
A total of 320 SNPs from the PADI locus (including PADI1, PADI2, PADI3, PADI4 and PADI6 genes) were genotyped in 1,238 RA cases and 1,571 control subjects from the Malaysian Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (MyEIRA) case-control study. Additionally, we conducted meta-analysis of our data together with the previously published studies of RA from East Asian populations.
Results
The overall odds ratio (ORoverall) for the PADI4 (rs2240340) allelic model was 1.11 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.00 to 1.23, P = 0.04) and for the genotypic model was 1.20 (95% CI = 1.01 to 1.44, P = 0.04). Haplotype analysis for four selected PADI4 SNPs revealed a significant association of one with susceptibility (P = 0.001) and of another with a protective effect (P = 0.02). The RA susceptibility was further confirmed when combined meta-analysis was performed using these data together with data from five previously published studies from Asia comprising 5,192 RA cases and 4,317 control subjects (ORoverall = 1.23 (95% CI = 1.16 to 1.31, Pheterogeneity = 0.08) and 1.31 (95% CI = 1.20 to 1.44, Pheterogeneity = 0.32) in allele and genotype-based models, respectively). In addition, we also detected a novel association of PADI2 genetic variant rs1005753 with RA (ORoverall = 0.87 (95% CI = 0.77 to 0.99)).
Conclusion
Our study demonstrates an association between PADI4 and RA in the multiethnic population from South East Asia and suggests additional association with a PADI2 gene. The study thus provides further support for the notion that polymorphisms in genes for enzymes responsible for citrullination contribute to RA development in multiple populations of Asian descent.
doi:10.1186/ar4093
PMCID: PMC3674620  PMID: 23164236
15.  Influence of FCGR3A genotype on the therapeutic response to rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis: an observational cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001524.
Objectives
To determine whether a polymorphism in the Fcγ receptor type IIIA (FCGR3A-F158V), influencing immunoglobulin G binding affinity, relates to the therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
Design
Observational cohort study.
Setting
Three university hospital rheumatology units in Sweden.
Participants
Patients with established RA (n=177; 145 females and 32 males) who started rituximab (Mabthera) as part of routine care.
Primary outcome measures
Response to rituximab therapy in relation to FCGR3A genotype, including stratification for sex.
Results
The frequency of responders differed significantly across FCGR3A genotypes (p=0.017 in a 3×2 contingency table). Heterozygous patients showed the highest response rate at 83%, as compared with patients carrying 158FF (68%) or 158VV (56%) (p=0.028 and 0.016, respectively). Among 158VV patients, response rates differed between male and female patients (p=0.036), but not among 158FF or 158VF patients (p=0.72 and 0.46, respectively).
Conclusions
Therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in RA patients is influenced by FCGR3A genotype, with the highest response rates found among heterozygous patients. This may suggest that different rituximab mechanisms of action in RA are optimally balanced in FCGR3A-158VF patients. Similar to the previously described associations with RA susceptibility and disease course, the impact of 158VV on rituximab response may be influenced by sex.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001524
PMCID: PMC3467642  PMID: 23002160
Rheumatology; Immunology; Therapeutics
16.  Five amino acids in three HLA proteins explain most of the association between MHC and seropositive rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(3):291-296.
The genetic association of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) to rheumatoid arthritis risk has commonly been attributed to HLA-DRB1 alleles. Yet controversy persists about the causal variants in HLA-DRB1 and the presence of independent effects elsewhere in the MHC. Using existing genome-wide SNP data in 5,018 seropositive cases and 14,974 controls, we imputed and tested classical alleles and amino acid polymorphisms for HLA-A, B, C, DPA1, DPB1, DQA1, DQB1, and DRB1 along with 3,117 SNPs across the MHC. Conditional and haplotype analyses reveal that three amino acid positions (11, 71 and 74) in HLA-DRβ1, and single amino acid polymorphisms in HLA-B (position 9) and HLA-DPβ1 (position 9), all located in the peptide-binding grooves, almost completely explain the MHC association to disease risk. This study illustrates how imputation of functional variation from large reference panels can help fine-map association signals in the MHC.
doi:10.1038/ng.1076
PMCID: PMC3288335  PMID: 22286218
17.  Variants of gene for microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase show association with disease and severe inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis 
Microsomal PGE synthase 1 (mPGES-1) is the terminal enzyme in the induced state of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthesis and constitutes a therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. We examined the role of the prostaglandin E synthase (PTGES) gene polymorphism in susceptibility to and severity of RA and related variations in the gene to its function. The PTGES gene polymorphism was analyzed in 3081 RA patients and 1900 controls from two study populations: Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) and the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic (Leiden EAC). Baseline disease activity score (DAS28) was employed as a disease severity measure. mPGES-1 expression was analyzed in synovial tissue from RA patients with known genotypes using immunohistochemistry. In the Swedish study population, among women a significant association with risk for RA was observed for PTGES single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in univariate analysis and for the distinct haplotype. These results were substantiated by meta-analysis of data from EIRA and Leiden EAC studies with overall OR 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.11–1.56). Several PTGES SNPs were associated with earlier onset of disease or with higher DAS28 in women with RA. Patients with the genotype associated with higher DAS28 exhibited significantly higher mPGES-1 expression in synovial tissue. Our data reveal a possible influence of PTGES polymorphism on the pathogenesis of RA and on disease severity through upregulation of mPGES-1 at the sites of inflammation. Genetically predisposed individuals may develop earlier and more active disease owing to this mechanism.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.50
PMCID: PMC3172931  PMID: 21448233
mPGES-1; gene polymorphism; rheumatoid arthritis; gender
18.  A Replication Study Confirms the Association of Dendritic Cell Immunoreceptor (DCIR) Polymorphisms with ACPA - Negative RA in a Large Asian Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41228.
Objectives
Dendritic cell immunoreceptor (DCIR) has been implicated in development of autoimmune disorders in rodent and DCIR polymorphisms were associated with anti-citrullinated proteins antibodies (ACPA)-negative rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Swedish Caucasians. This study was undertaken to further investigate whether DCIR polymorphisms are also risk factors for the development of RA in four Asian populations originated from China and Malaysia.
Methods
We genotyped two DCIR SNPs rs2377422 and rs10840759 in Han Chinese population (1,193 cases, 1,278 controls), to assess their association with RA. Subsequently, rs2377422 was further genotyped in three independent cohorts of Malaysian-Chinese subjects (MY_Chinese, 254 cases, 206 controls), Malay subjects (MY_ Malay, 515 cases, 986 controls), and Malaysian-Indian subjects (MY_Indian, 378 cases, 285 controls), to seek confirmation of association in various ethnic groups. Meta-analysis was preformed to evaluate the contribution of rs2377422 polymorphisms to the development of ACPA-negative RA in distinct ethnic groups. Finally, we carried out association analysis of rs2377422 polymorphisms with DCIR mRNA expression levels.
Results
DCIR rs2377422 was found to be significantly associated with ACPA -negative RA in Han Chinese (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.27–2.90, P = 0.0020). Meta-analysis confirms DCIR rs2377422 as a risk factor for ACPA-negative RA across distinct ethnic groups (ORoverall = 1.17, 95% CI 1.06–1.30, P = 0.003). The SNP rs2377422 polymorphism showed significant association with DCIR mRNA expression level, i.e. RA-risk CC genotype exhibit a significant increase in the expression of DCIR (P = 0.0023, Kruskal–Wallis).
Conclusions
Our data provide evidence for association between DCIR rs2377422 and RA in non-Caucasian populations and confirm the influence of DCIR polymorphisms on RA susceptibility, especially on ACPA-negative RA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041228
PMCID: PMC3400585  PMID: 22829930
19.  Smoking interacts with HLA-DRB1 shared epitope in the development of anti-citrullinated protein antibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis: results from the Malaysian Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (MyEIRA) 
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a multifactorial autoimmune disease in which genetic and environmental factors interact in the etiology. In this study, we investigated whether smoking and HLA-DRB1 shared-epitope (SE) alleles interact differently in the development of the two major subgroups of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), anti-citrullinated proteins antibody (ACPA)-positive and ACPA-negative disease, in a multiethnic population of Asian descent.
Methods
A case-control study comprising early diagnosed RA cases was carried out in Malaysia between 2005 and 2009. In total, 1,076 cases and 1,612 matched controls participated in the study. High-resolution HLA-DRB1 genotyping was performed for shared-epitope (SE) alleles. All participants answered a questionnaire on a broad range of issues, including smoking habits. The odds ratio (OR) of developing ACPA-positive and ACPA-negative disease was calculated for smoking and the presence of any SE alleles separately. Potential interaction between smoking history (defined as "ever" and "never" smoking) and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles also was calculated.
Results
In our multiethnic study, both the SE alleles and smoking were associated with an increased risk of developing ACPA-positive RA (OR SE alleles, 4.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3.6 to 6.2; OR smoking, 4.1; 95% CI, 1.9 to 9.2). SE-positive smokers had an odds ratio of ACPA-positive RA of 25.6 (95% CI, 10.4 to 63.4), compared with SE-negative never-smokers. The interaction between smoking and SE alleles was significant (attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) was 0.7 (95% CI, 0.5 to 1.0)). The HLA-DRB1*04:05 SE allele, which is common in Asian populations, but not among Caucasians, was associated with an increased risk of ACPA-positive RA, and this allele also showed signs of interaction with smoking (AP, 0.4; 95% CI, -0.1 to 0.9). Neither smoking nor SE alleles nor their combination was associated with an increased risk of ACPA-negative RA.
Conclusions
The risk of developing ACPA-positive RA is associated with a strong gene-environment interaction between smoking and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles in a Malaysian multiethnic population of Asian descent. This interaction seems to apply also between smoking and the specific HLA-DRB1*04:05 SE allele, which is common in Asian populations but not in Caucasians.
doi:10.1186/ar3813
PMCID: PMC3446463  PMID: 22537824
20.  The Heterogeneity of Asthma Phenotypes in Children and Young Adults 
Journal of Allergy  2012;2012:163089.
Objective. Genetic heterogeneity and risk factor distribution was analyzed in two previously proposed asthma phenotypes. Method. A sample of 412 subjects was investigated at 7-8, 12-13, and 21-22 years of age with questionnaires, skin prick tests, and genetic analysis of IL-4 receptor (IL4R) single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The sample was subdivided in one group with no asthma, and two groups with asthma separated by age of onset of symptoms, namely, early onset asthma (EOA) and late onset asthma (LOA). Risk factors and IL4R markers were analyzed in respect to asthma phenotypes. Results. EOA and LOA groups were both associated with atopy and a maternal history of asthma. Female gender was more common in LOA, whereas childhood eczema, frequent colds in infancy, and a paternal history of asthma were more common in EOA. The AA genotype of rs2057768 and the GG genotype of rs1805010 were more common in LOA, whereas the GG genotype of rs2107356 was less common in EOA. Conclusion. Our data suggest that early and late onset asthma may be of different endotypes and genotypes.
doi:10.1155/2012/163089
PMCID: PMC3332210  PMID: 22577403
21.  Interaction Analysis between HLA-DRB1 Shared Epitope Alleles and MHC Class II Transactivator CIITA Gene with Regard to Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32861.
HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles are the strongest genetic determinants for autoantibody positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One of the key regulators in expression of HLA class II receptors is MHC class II transactivator (CIITA). A variant of the CIITA gene has been found to associate with inflammatory diseases.
We wanted to explore whether the risk variant rs3087456 in the CIITA gene interacts with the HLA-DRB1 SE alleles regarding the risk of developing RA. We tested this hypothesis in a case-control study with 11767 individuals from four European Caucasian populations (6649 RA cases and 5118 controls).
We found no significant additive interaction for risk alleles among Swedish Caucasians with RA (n = 3869, attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) = 0.2, 95%CI: −0.2–0.5) or when stratifying for anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) presence (ACPA positive disease: n = 2945, AP = 0.3, 95%CI: −0.05–0.6, ACPA negative: n = 2268, AP = −0.2, 95%CI: −1.0–0.6). We further found no significant interaction between the main subgroups of SE alleles (DRB1*01, DRB1*04 or DRB1*10) and CIITA. Similar analysis of three independent RA cohorts from British, Dutch and Norwegian populations also indicated an absence of significant interaction between genetic variants in CIITA and SE alleles with regard to RA risk.
Our data suggest that risk from the CIITA locus is independent of the major risk for RA from HLA-DRB1 SE alleles, given that no significant interaction between rs3087456 and SE alleles was observed. Since a biological link between products of these genes is evident, the genetic contribution from CIITA and class II antigens in the autoimmune process may involve additional unidentified factors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032861
PMCID: PMC3312880  PMID: 22461888
22.  Smoking is a major preventable risk factor for Rheumatoid arthritis Estimations of risks after various exposures to cigarette smoke 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(3):508-511.
Background
Earlier studies have demonstrated that smoking and genetic risk factors interact in providing an increased risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Less is known on how smoking contributes to RA in the context of genetic variability, and what proportion of RA that may be caused by smoking.
Objectives
To determine the association between amount of smoking and risk of RA in the context of different HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles, and to estimate proportions of RA cases attributed to smoking.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Data from the Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) case-control study encompassing 1204 cases and 871 controls were analysed.
Main Outcome Measure
Estimated odds ratio to develop RA and excess fraction of cases attributable to smoking according to amount of smoking and genotype.
Results
Smoking was estimated to be responsible for 35 % of the ACPA+ cases. For each HLA-DRB1 SE genotype, smoking was dose-dependently associated with increased risk of ACPA+ RA (p-trend<0.001). In individuals carrying two copies of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope, 55 % of ACPA-positive RA were attributable to smoking.
Conclusions
Smoking is a preventable risk factor for RA. The increased risk due to smoking is dependent on amount of smoking and genotype.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.120899
PMCID: PMC3033966  PMID: 21149499
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Smoking; HLA-DRB1; Case-control studies; Epidemiology
23.  High-Density SNP Mapping of the HLA Region Identifies Multiple Independent Susceptibility Loci Associated with Selective IgA Deficiency 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002476.
Selective IgA deficiency (IgAD; serum IgA<0.07 g/l) is the most common form of human primary immune deficiency, affecting approximately 1∶600 individuals in populations of Northern European ancestry. The polygenic nature of IgAD is underscored by the recent identification of several new risk genes in a genome-wide association study. Among the characterized susceptibility loci, the association with specific HLA haplotypes represents the major genetic risk factor for IgAD. Despite the robust association, the nature and location of the causal variants in the HLA region remains unknown. To better characterize the association signal in this region, we performed a high-density SNP mapping of the HLA locus and imputed the genotypes of common HLA-B, -DRB1, and -DQB1 alleles in a combined sample of 772 IgAD patients and 1,976 matched controls from 3 independent European populations. We confirmed the complex nature of the association with the HLA locus, which is the result of multiple effects spanning the entire HLA region. The primary association signal mapped to the HLA-DQB1*02 allele in the HLA Class II region (combined P = 7.69×10−57; OR = 2.80) resulting from the combined independent effects of the HLA-B*0801-DRB1*0301-DQB1*02 and -DRB1*0701-DQB1*02 haplotypes, while additional secondary signals were associated with the DRB1*0102 (combined P = 5.86×10−17; OR = 4.28) and the DRB1*1501 (combined P = 2.24×10−35; OR = 0.13) alleles. Despite the strong population-specific frequencies of HLA alleles, we found a remarkable conservation of these effects regardless of the ethnic background, which supports the use of large multi-ethnic populations to characterize shared genetic association signals in the HLA region. We also provide evidence for the location of association signals within the specific extended haplotypes, which will guide future sequencing studies aimed at characterizing the precise functional variants contributing to disease pathogenesis.
Author Summary
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) locus is robustly associated with many immune-mediated conditions. However, identification of the genetic variants contributing to the disease pathophysiology has been greatly hampered by the extensive chromosomal conservation within this genomic region. To better understand the association of the HLA locus in selective IgA deficiency (IgAD), we used an extensive genotyping database from a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) to generate a high-density SNP map of this region in a combined sample of >2,700 individuals from 3 independent European populations. In addition, we took advantage of recent methodological advances to impute the more common HLA-B, -DRB1, and -DQB1 alleles in all subjects. We confirmed the strong disease-association of the HLA locus and identified several different signals located in specific conserved HLA haplotypes contributing independent risk or protection for IgAD. Further analysis of the chromosomal sequences associated with the associated HLA alleles allowed us to refine the mapping of the susceptibility variants. These findings represent the most comprehensive high-density SNP mapping of the HLA locus in IgAD to date and provide important new information as to the location of the genetic variants contributing to this common immune deficiency.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002476
PMCID: PMC3266887  PMID: 22291608
24.  The balance of expression of PTPN22 splice forms is significantly different in rheumatoid arthritis patients compared with controls 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(1):2.
Background
The R620W variant in protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor 22 (PTPN22) is associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The PTPN22 gene has alternatively spliced transcripts and at least two of the splice forms have been confirmed to encode different PTPN22 (LYP) proteins, but detailed information regarding expression of these is lacking, especially with regard to autoimmune diseases.
Methods
We have investigated the mRNA expression of known PTPN22 splice forms with TaqMan real-time PCR in relation to ZNF592 as an endogenous reference in peripheral blood cells from three independent cohorts with RA patients (n = 139) and controls (n = 111) of Caucasian origin. Polymorphisms in the PTPN22 locus (25 SNPs) and phenotypic data (gender, disease activity, ACPA and RF status) were used for analysis. Additionally, we addressed possible effects of methotrexate treatment on PTPN22 expression.
Results
We found consistent differences in the expression of the PTPN22 splice forms in unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells between RA patients and normal controls. This difference was more pronounced when comparing the ratio of splice forms and was not affected by methotrexate treatment.
Conclusions
Our data show that RA patients and healthy controls have a shift in balance of expression of splice forms derived from the PTPN22 gene. This balance seems not to be caused by treatment and may be of importance during immune response due to great structural differences in the encoded PTPN22 proteins.
doi:10.1186/gm301
PMCID: PMC3334550  PMID: 22264340
25.  Report of the 60th annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics: several steps toward discoveries 
Genome Medicine  2010;2(12):89.
A report of the 60th annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Washington, DC, USA, 2-6 November 2010.
doi:10.1186/gm210
PMCID: PMC3025431  PMID: 21176121

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