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1.  Association of variation in Fcγ receptor 3B gene copy number with rheumatoid arthritis in Caucasian samples 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;69(9):1711-1716.
There is increasing evidence that variation in gene copy number (CN) influences clinical phenotype. The low-affinity Fcγ receptor 3B (FCGR3B) located in the FCGR gene cluster is a CN polymorphic gene involved in the recruitment to sites of inflammation and activation of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs). Given recent evidence that low FCGR3B CN is a risk factor for systemic but not organ-specific autoimmune disease and the potential importance of PMN in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the authors hypothesised that FCGR3B gene dosage influences susceptibility to RA.
FCGR3B CN was measured in 643 cases of RA and 461 controls from New Zealand (NZ), with follow-up analysis in 768 cases and 702 controls from the Netherlands and 250 cases and 211 controls from the UK. All subjects were of Caucasian ancestry.
Significant evidence for an association between CN <2 and RA was observed in the Dutch cohort (OR 2.01 (95% CI 1.37 to 2.94), p=3×10–4) but not in the two smaller cohorts (OR 1.45 (95% CI 0.92 to 2.26), p=0.11 and OR 1.33 (95% CI 0.58 to 3.02), p=0.50 for the NZ and UK populations, respectively). The association was evident in a meta-analysis which included a previously published Caucasian sample set (OR 1.67 (95% CI 1.28 to 2.17), p=1.2×10–4).
One possible mechanism to explain the association between reduced FCGR3B CN and RA is the reduced clearance of immune complex during infl ammation. However, it is not known whether the association between RA and FCGR3B CN is aetiological or acts as a proxy marker for another biologically relevant variant. More detailed examination of genetic variation within the FCGR gene cluster is required.
PMCID: PMC3670580  PMID: 20472591
2.  FCGR3B copy number variation is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus risk in Afro-Caribbeans 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2011;50(7):1206-1210.
To evaluate FCGR3B copy number variation (CNV) in African and European populations and to determine if FCGR3B copy number is associated with SLE and SLE nephritis risk in Afro-Caribbeans, adjusting for African genetic ancestry.
We estimated FCGR3B to determine if there were ethnic variations in CNV (unrelated unadmixed Europeans and Africans). We then examined CNV at FCGR3B in relation to SLE and SLE nephritis within a case–control collection of 134 cases of SLE (37 with SLE nephritis) and 589 population controls of mainly Afro-Caribbean descent resident in Trinidad.
We found a significant difference in copy number FCGR3B distribution between unadmixed African and European UK cohorts, with 27 (29%) vs 3 (5%) for those with low (0 or 1) copy FCGR3B, respectively, P = 0.002. In a Trinidadian SLE case–control study, low FCGR3B CNV was associated with SLE risk 1.7 (95% CI 1.1, 2.8), P = 0.02, which remained after adjustment for African genetic ancestry; odds ratios (ORs) 1.7 (95% CI 1.0, 2.8), P = 0.04.
Our studies suggest that FCGR3B low copy number is associated with SLE risk in Afro-Caribbean populations independently of CNV due to African ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3670581  PMID: 21296850
SLE; Admixture; FCGR3B; Copy number variation; African
3.  Osteoclast Differentiation Is Impaired in a Subgroup of SLE Patients and Correlates Inversely with Mycophenolate Mofetil Treatment 
Osteoporosis can arise in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients secondary to medication and/or chronic inflammation. To analyze if patients with SLE have phenotypically-impaired osteoclastogenesis, we differentiated ex vivo monocytes from 72 SLE patients and 15 healthy individuals into osteoclasts followed by TRAP staining and counting. We identified a subgroup of SLE patients (45%) with a significantly impaired osteoclast differentiation, relative to the other SLE patients or healthy individuals (OR 11.2; 95% CI 1.4–89.9). A review of medication indicated that patients with osteoclast counts equal to healthy donors were significantly more likely to be treated with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) compared to patients with impaired osteoclastogenesis. We analyzed expression of RANKL and the MMF target genes IMPDH1 and IMPDH2 in osteoclasts by qPCR, but detected no difference. Since MMF might influence interferon-α (IFNα) and -γ (IFNγ) we measured serum IFNα and IFNγ levels. Patients with very low osteoclast counts also had comparably higher IFNα serum levels than patients with normal osteoclast counts. We conclude that in vitro osteoclastogenesis is impaired in a subgroup of SLE patients. This correlates inversely with MMF treatment and high IFNα serum levels. Further observational study will be required to determine whether this translates into a clinically meaningful effect.
PMCID: PMC4581274  PMID: 26274951
osteoclastogenesis; mycophenolate mofetil; interferon alpha; systemic lupus erythematosus; RANKL
4.  Trans-Ancestral Studies Fine Map the SLE-Susceptibility Locus TNFSF4 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(7):e1003554.
We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10−34, OR = 1.43[1.26–1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10−28, OR = 1.38[1.24–1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5′ region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5′ risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex disease in which the body's immune cells cause inflammation in one or more systems to cause the associated morbidity. Hormones, the environment and genes are all causal contributors to SLE and over the past several years the genetic component of SLE has been firmly established. Several genes which are regulators of the immune system are associated with disease risk. We have established one of these, the tumour-necrosis family superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4) gene, as a lupus susceptibility gene in Northern Europeans. A major obstacle in pinpointing the marker(s) at TNFSF4 which best explain the risk of SLE has been the strong correlation (linkage disequilibrium, LD) between adjacent markers across the TNFSF4 region in this population. To address this, we have typed polymorphisms in several populations in addition to the European groups. The mixed ancestry of these populations gives a different LD pattern than that found in Europeans, presenting a method of pinpointing the section of the TNFSF4 region which results in SLE susceptibility. The Non-European populations have allowed identification of a polymorphism likely to regulate expression of TNFSF4 to increase susceptibility to SLE.
PMCID: PMC3715547  PMID: 23874208
5.  Association of IRF5 in UK SLE families identifies a variant involved in polyadenylation 
Human molecular genetics  2006;16(6):579-591.
Results from two studies have implicated the interferon regulatory gene IRF5 as a susceptibility gene in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this study, we conducted a family-based association analysis in 380 UK SLE nuclear families. Using a higher density of markers than has hitherto been screened, we show that there is association with two SNPs in the first intron, rs2004640 (P = 3.4 × 10−4) and rs3807306 (P = 4.9 × 10−4), and the association extends into the 3′-untranslated region (UTR). There is a single haplotype block encompassing IRF5 and we show for the first time that the gene comprises two over-transmitted haplotypes and a single under-transmitted haplotype. The strongest association is with a TCTAACT haplotype (T:U = 1.92, P = 5.8 × 10−5), which carries all the over-transmitted alleles from this study. Haplotypes carrying the T alleles of rs2004640 and rs2280714 and the A allele of rs10954213 are over-transmitted in SLE families. The TAT haplotype shows a dose-dependent relationship with mRNA expression. A differential expression pattern was seen between two expression probes located each side of rs10954213 in the 3′-UTR. rs10954213 shows the strongest association with RNA expression levels (P = 1 × 10−14). The A allele of rs10954213 creates a functional polyadenylation site and the A genotype correlates with increased expression of a transcript variant containing a shorter 3′-UTR. Expression levels of transcript variants with the shorter or longer 3′-UTRs are inversely correlated. Our data support a new mechanism by which an IRF5 polymorphism controls the expression of alternate transcript variants which may have different effects on interferon signalling.
PMCID: PMC3706933  PMID: 17189288
6.  A high resolution HLA and SNP haplotype map for disease association studies in the extended human MHC 
Nature genetics  2006;38(10):1166-1172.
The proteins encoded by the classical HLA class I and class II genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are highly polymorphic and play an essential role in self/non-self immune recognition. HLA variation is a crucial determinant of transplant rejection and susceptibility to a large number of infectious and autoimmune disease1. Yet identification of causal variants is problematic due to linkage disequilibrium (LD) that extends across multiple HLA and non-HLA genes in the MHC2,3. We therefore set out to characterize the LD patterns between the highly polymorphic HLA genes and background variation by typing the classical HLA genes and >7,500 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and deletion/insertion polymorphisms (DIPs) across four population samples. The analysis provides informative tag SNPs that capture some of the variation in the MHC region and that could be used in initial disease association studies, and provides new insight into the evolutionary dynamics and ancestral origins of the HLA loci and their haplotypes.
PMCID: PMC2670196  PMID: 16998491

Results 1-6 (6)