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1.  A role for Ly108 in the induction of PLZF in developing thymocytes1 
The promyelocytic zinc finger transcription factor (PLZF) is required for the development of activated phenotypes in NKT and other innate T lymphocytes. Although strong TCR stimulation has been implicated in the induction of PLZF, the factors regulating PLZF expression are incompletely understood. We show here that costimulation of pre-selection double positive thymocytes through the Signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) family receptor Ly108 markedly enhanced PLZF expression compared to that induced by T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation alone. Costimulation with Ly108 increased expression of Egr-2 and binding of Egr-2 to the promoter of Zbtb16, which encodes PLZF, and resulted in PLZF levels similar to those seen in NKT cells. In contrast, costimulation with αCD28 failed to enhance Egr-2 binding and Zbtb16 expression. Moreover, mice lacking Ly108 showed decreased numbers of PLZF expressing CD4+ T cells. Together, these results support a potential role for Ly108 in the induction of PLZF.
PMCID: PMC3578000  PMID: 23355739
2.  B cell-TLR7 expression drives anti-RNA autoantibody production and exacerbates disease in SLE-prone mice 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of anti-nuclear autoantibodies (ANA). ANA development is recognized as one of the initial stages of disease which often results in systemic inflammation, kidney disease and death. The etiology is complex, but it is clear that innate pathways may play an important role in disease progression. Recent data has highlighted an important role for the TLR family, particularly TLR7 in both human disease and murine models. In the studies presented here, we have presented a low copy conditional TLR7 transgenic (Tg7) mouse strain which does not develop spontaneous autoimmunity. When we combine Tg7 with the Sle1 lupus susceptibility locus, the mice develop severe disease. Using the CD19Cre-recombinase system, we normalized expression of TLR7 solely within the B cells. Using this method we demonstrated that overexpression of TLR7 within the B cell compartment reduces the marginal zone B cell compartment and increases B and T cell activation but not T follicular helper cell development. Moreover, this enhanced B-cell TLR7 expression permits the specific development of antibodies to RNA/protein complexes and exacerbates SLE disease.
PMCID: PMC3544945  PMID: 23150717
3.  Trex1 regulates lysosomal biogenesis and interferon-independent activation of antiviral genes 
Nature immunology  2012;14(1):61-71.
Innate immune sensing of viral nucleic acids triggers type I interferon (IFN) production, which activates interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and directs a multifaceted antiviral response. ISGs can also be activated through IFN-independent pathways, although the precise mechanisms remain elusive. Here we found that the cytosolic exonuclease Trex1 regulates the activation of a subset of ISGs independently of IFN. Both Trex1−/− mouse and TREX1-mutant human cells express high levels of antiviral genes and are refractory to viral infections. The IFN-independent activation of antiviral genes in Trex1−/− cells requires STING, TBK1 and IRF3 and IRF7. We also found that Trex1-deficient cells display expanded lysosomal compartment, altered subcellular localization of the transcription factor EB (TFEB), and reduced mTORC1 activity. Together, our data identify Trex1 as a regulator of lysosomal biogenesis and IFN-independent activation of antiviral genes, and shows dysregulation of lysosomes can elicit innate immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3522772  PMID: 23160154
4.  Identification of novel coding mutation in C1qA gene in an African-American pedigree with lupus and C1q deficiency 
Lupus  2012;21(10):1113-1118.
Homozygous C1q deficiency is an extremely rare condition and strongly associated with systemic lupus erythematosus. To assess and characterize C1q deficiency in an African-American lupus pedigree, C1q genomic region was evaluated in the lupus cases and family members.
Genomic DNA from patient was obtained and C1q A, B and C gene cluster was sequenced using next generation sequencing method. The identified mutation was further confirmed by direct Sanger sequencing method in the patient and all blood relatives. C1q levels in serum were measured using sandwich ELISA method.
In an African-American patient with lupus and C1q deficiency, we identified and confirmed a novel homozygote start codon mutation in C1qA gene that changes amino acid Methionine to Arginine at position 1. The Met1Arg mutation prevents protein translation (Met1Arg). Mutation analyses of the patient’s family members also revealed the Met1Arg homozygote mutation in her deceased brother who also had lupus with absence of total complement activity consistent with a recessive pattern of inheritance.
The identification of new mutation in C1qA gene that disrupts the start codon (ATG to AGG (Met1Arg)), has not been reported previously and it expands the knowledge and importance of the C1q gene in the pathogenesis of lupus especially in high risk African-American population.
PMCID: PMC3508769  PMID: 22472776
5.  The antibacterial lectin RegIIIγ promotes the spatial segregation of microbiota and host in the intestine 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2011;334(6053):255-258.
The mammalian intestine is home to ~100 trillion bacteria that perform important metabolic functions for their hosts. The proximity of vast numbers of bacteria to host intestinal tissues raises the question of how symbiotic host-bacterial relationships are maintained without eliciting potentially harmful immune responses. Here we show that RegIIIγ, a secreted antibacterial lectin, was essential for maintaining a ~50 μm zone that physically separates the microbiota from the small intestinal epithelial surface. Loss of host-bacterial segregation in RegIIIγ−/− mice was coupled to increased bacterial colonization of the intestinal epithelial surface and enhanced activation of intestinal adaptive immune responses by the microbiota. Together, our findings reveal that RegIIIγ is a fundamental immune mechanism that promotes host-bacterial mutualism by regulating the spatial relationships between microbiota and host.
PMCID: PMC3321924  PMID: 21998396
6.  Influence of Carbon Monoxide on Growth and Apoptosis of Human Umbilical Artery Smooth Muscle Cells and Vein Endothelial Cells 
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a vasoactive molecule that is generated by vascular cells as a byproduct of heme catabolism and it plays an important physiological role in circulation system. In order to investigate whether exogenous CO can mediate the growth and proliferation of vascular cells, in this study, we used 250 parts per million (ppm) of CO to treat human umbilical artery smooth muscle cell (hUASMC) and human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HuVEC) and further evaluated the growth and apoptosis status of SMC and HuVEC. After SMC and HuVEC were exposed to CO for 7-day, the growth of SMC and HuVEC was significantly inhibited by CO in vitro on day 5 of CO exposure. And CO blocked cell cycle progress of SMC and HuVEC, more SMC and HuVEC stagnated at G0/G1 phase by flow cytometric analysis. Moreover, CO treatment inhibited SMC and HuVEC apoptosis caused by hydrogen peroxide through decreasing caspase 3 and 9 activities. To confirm the molecular mechanism of CO effect on SMC and HuVEC growth, we compared the gene expression profile in SMC and CO-treated SMC, HuVEC and CO-treated HuVEC. By microarray analysis, we found the expression level of some genes which are related to cell cycle regulation, cell growth and proliferation, and apoptosis were changed during CO exposure. We further identified that the down-regulated CDK2 contributed to arresting cell growth and the down-regulated Caspase 3 (CASP3) and Caspase 9 (CASP9) were associated with the inhibition of cell apoptosis. Therefore, CO exerts a certain growth arrest on SMC and HuVEC by inhibiting cell cycle transition from G0/G1 phase to S phase and has regulatory effect on cell apoptosis by regulating the expression of apoptosis-associated genes.
PMCID: PMC3509336  PMID: 23197940
CO; smooth muscle cell; human umbilical vein endothelial cell; cell proliferation; apoptosis.
8.  Slam haplotypes modulate the response to LPS in vivo through control of NKT cell number and function1 
CD1d-restricted NKT cells comprise an innate-like T cell subset that hasbeen demonstrated to play a role in amplifying the response of innate immune leukocytesto TLR ligands. The Slam locus contains genes that have been implicated in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Here, we demonstrate that divergent Slam locus haplotypesmodulate the response of macrophages to TLR ligands such as LPS through their control of NKT cell number and function. In response to LPS challenge in vivo, macrophage TNF production in Slam haplotype-2-associated 129S1/SvImJ and 129X1/SvJ mice was significantly impaired in comparison to macrophage TNF production in Slam haplotype -1-positive C57BL/6J mice. Although no cell-intrinsic differences in macrophage responses to LPS were observed between strains, 129 mice were found to be deficient in liver NKT cell number, in NKT cell cytokine production in response to the CD1d ligand α-galactosylceramide, and in NKT cell IFN-γ production after LPS challenge in vivo. Using B6.129 c1congenic mice and adoptive transfer, we found that divergent Slam haplotypes controlled both the response to LPS in vivo as well as the diminished NKT cell number and function, and that these phenotypes were associated with differential expression of SLAM family receptors on NKT cells. These data suggest that the polymorphisms that distinguish two Slam haplotypes significantly modulate the innate immune response in vivothrough their effect on NKT cell s.
PMCID: PMC3055558  PMID: 20530260
9.  Risk factors for ANA positivity in healthy persons 
The finding of antinuclear antibody (ANA) positivity in a healthy individual is usually of unknown significance and in most cases is benign. However, a subset of such individuals is at risk for development of autoimmune disease. We examined demographic and immunological features that are associated with ANA positivity in clinically healthy persons to develop insights into when this marker carries risk of progression to lupus.
Biological samples from healthy individuals and patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were obtained from the Dallas Regional Autoimmune Disease Registry (DRADR). Measurements carried out on serum samples included ANA, extractable nuclear antibodies (ENA) and autoantibody profiling using an array with more than 100 specificities. Whole blood RNA samples from a subset of individuals were used to analyze gene expression on the Illumina platform. Data were analyzed for associations of high ANA levels with demographic features, the presence of other autoantibodies and with gene expression profiles.
Overall, ANA levels are significantly higher in females than in males and this association holds in patients with the autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as well as in healthy controls (HC). Age was not significantly associated with ANA levels and the elevated ANA values could not be explained by higher IgG levels. Another autoantibody, anti- cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP), did not show gender dimorphism in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or healthy individuals. The autoantigen array showed significant elevations of other autoantibodies in high ANA HCs. Some of these autoantibodies were directed to antigens in skin and others were related to autoimmune conditions of kidney, thyroid or joints. Gene expression analyses showed a greater prevalence of significantly upregulated genes in HCs with negative ANA values than in those with significant ANA positivity. Genes upregulated in high ANA HCs included a celiac disease autoantigen and some components of the Type I interferon (IFN) gene signature.
Risks for ANA positivity include female gender and organ-specific autoimmunity. Upregulation of skin-specific autoantibodies may indicate that early events in the break of tolerance take place in cutaneous structures. Some of these changes may be mediated by Type I IFN. Blood profiling for expressed autoantibodies and genes has the potential to identify individuals at risk for development of autoimmune diseases including lupus.
PMCID: PMC3132017  PMID: 21366908
10.  Optimal Germinal Center Responses Require A Multi-stage T:B Cell Adhesion Process Involving Integrins, SLAM-associated protein and CD84 
Immunity  2010;32(2):253-265.
CD4+ T cells deficient in signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM)-associated protein (SAP) exhibit a selective impairment in adhesion to antigen presenting B cells but not dendritic cells (DC), resulting in defective germinal center formation. However, the nature of this selective adhesion defect remained unclear. We found that whereas T:DC interactions were primarily integrin-dependent, T:B cell interactions had both an early integrin-dependent phase and a sustained phase that also required SAP. We further found that the SLAM family member, CD84, was required for prolonged T:B cell contact, optimal T follicular helper function, and germinal center formation in vivo. Moreover, both CD84 and another SLAM member, Ly108, mediated T cell adhesion and participated in stable T:B cell interactions in vitro. Our results reveal insight into the dynamic regulation of T:B cell interactions and identify SLAM family members as critical components of sustained T:B cell adhesion required for productive humoral immunity.
PMCID: PMC2830297  PMID: 20153220
11.  Yaa-autoimmune phenotypes are conferred by an overexpression of TLR7 
European journal of immunology  2008;38(7):1971-1978.
The y-linked autoimmune accelerating (Yaa) locus drives the transition to fatal lupus nephritis when combined with B6.Sle1 in our B6-congenic model of systemic autoimmunity. We and others recently demonstrated that the translocation of a cluster of X-linked genes onto the Y chromosome is the genetic lesion underlying Yaa (Subramanian, S. et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2006. 103: 9970–9975; Pisitkun, P. et al., Science 2006. 312: 1669–1672). In male mice carrying Yaa, the transcription of several genes within the translocated segment is increased roughly 2-fold. Although the translocated X chromosome segment in Yaa may contain as many as 16 genes, the major candidate gene for causation of the Yaa-associated autoimmune phenotypes has been TLR7. To confirm the role of TLR7 in Yaa-mediated autoimmune phenotypes, we introgressed a targeted disruption of TLR7 (TLR7−) onto B6.Sle1Yaa to produce B6.Sle1YaaTLR7− and examined evidence of disease at 6 and 9 months of age. Our results demonstrate that the upregulation of TLR7 in the B6.Sle1Yaa strain is responsible for splenomegaly, glomerular nephritis and the majority of the cellular abnormalities of B, T and myeloid cells. The upregulation of TLR7 was also responsible for driving the infiltration and activation of leukocytes into the kidney, in which activated T cellswere a primary component. However, the resolution of TLR7 upregulation did not eliminate the enhanced humoral autoimmunity observed in B6.SleYaa, suggesting that additional elements in the translocation may contribute to the disease phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2993003  PMID: 18521959
Autoimmunity; TLR7; genetics; SLE; congenic
12.  CXCR4/CXCL12 hyperexpression plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of lupus 1 
Among various surface molecules screened, CXCR4 was significantly up-regulated on monocytes, neutrophils, B-cell subsets, and plasma cells in multiple murine models of lupus with active nephritis, including B6.Sle1Yaa, BXSB, and MRL.lpr. TLR-mediated signaling and inflammatory cytokines accounted in part for this increase. Increased CXCR4 expression was associated with functional consequences, including increased migration and enhanced B-cell survival. Simultaneously, the ligand for CXCR4, CXCL12, was significantly upregulated in the nephritic kidneys. Treatment with a peptide antagonist of CXCR4 prolonged survival and reduced serum autoantibodies, splenomegaly, intra-renal leukocyte trafficking and end organ disease in a murine model of lupus. These findings underscore the pathogenic role of CXCR4/CXCL12 in lymphoproliferative lupus and lupus nephritis and highlight this axis as a promising therapeutic target in this disease.
PMCID: PMC2946082  PMID: 19299746
13.  Antigen Specific Responses and ANA production in B6.Sle1b mice: A role for SAP 
Journal of autoimmunity  2008;31(4):345-353.
B6.Sle1b mice, which contain the Sle1b gene interval derived from lupus prone NZM2410 mice on a C57BL/6 background, present with gender-biased, highly penetrant anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) production. To obtain some insight into the possible induction mechanism of autoantibodies in these mice we compared antigen specific T dependent (TD) and T independent (TI-II) responses between B6.Sle1b and B6 mice before the development of high ANA titers. Our results show that B6.Sle1b mice mount enhanced responses to a TI-II antigen. Additionally, the memory T cell response generated by a TD antigen was also increased. This enhancement correlates with the greater ability of B cells from B6.Sle1b mice to present antigen to T cells. The SLAM Associated Protein (SAP) is critical for signaling of many of the molecules encoded by the SLAM/CD2 gene cluster, candidates for mediating the Sle1b phenotype; therefore, we also investigated the effect of sap deletion in these strains on the TD and TI-II responses as well as on ANA production. The results of these studies of responses to non-self antigens provide further insight for the mechanism by which responses to self-antigens might be initiated in the context of specific genetic alterations.
PMCID: PMC2877280  PMID: 18845419
ANA; antigen-specific responses; SAP; SLE
14.  Type I Interferons Produced by Resident Renal Cells May Promote End-Organ Disease in Autoantibody-Mediated Glomerulonephritis1 
Increased Type I IFNs or IFN-I have been associated with human systemic lupus erythematosus. Interestingly augmenting or negating IFN-I activity in murine lupus not only modulates systemic autoimmunity, but also impacts lupus nephritis, suggesting that IFN-I may be acting at the level of the end-organ. We find resident renal cells to be a dominant source of IFN-I in an experimental model of autoantibody-induced nephritis. In this model, augmenting IFN-I amplified antibody-triggered nephritis, whereas ablating IFN-I activity ameliorated disease. One mechanism through which increased IFN-I drives immune-mediated nephritis might be operative through increased recruitment of inflammatory monocytes and neutrophils, though this hypothesis needs further validation. Collectively, these studies indicate that an important contribution of IFN-I toward the disease pathology seen in systemic autoimmunity may be exercised at the level of the end-organ.
PMCID: PMC2876821  PMID: 19864599
15.  Evaluation of C1q genomic region in minority racial groups of lupus 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):517-524.
Complement cascade plasma proteins have a complex role in the etiopathogenesis of SLE. Hereditary C1q deficiency has been strongly related to SLE; however, there are very few published SLE studies that evaluate the polymorphisms of the genes encoding for C1q (A, B, and C). In this study, we evaluated 17 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across 37 kb of C1QA, B and C in a lupus cohort of peoples of African-American and Hispanic origin. In a case only analysis, significant association at multiple SNPs in the C1QA gene was detected in African-Americans with kidney nephritis (best p=4.91 × 10−6). In addition, C1QA was associated with SLE in African-Americans with a lack of nephritis and accompanying photosensitivity when compared to normal controls (p=6.80 × 10−6). A similar trend was observed in the Hispanic subjects (p=0.003). Quantitative analysis demonstrates that some SNPs in the C1q genes might be correlated with C3 complement levels in an additive model among African-Americans (best p=0.0001). The CIQA gene is associated with subphenotypes of lupus in African-American and Hispanic subjects. Further studies with higher SNP densities in this region and other complement components are necessary to elucidate the complex genetics and phenotypic interactions between complement components and SLE.
PMCID: PMC2769492  PMID: 19440201
16.  Genetic Associations of LYN with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):397-403.
We targeted LYN, a src-tyosine kinase involved in B cell activation, in case-control association studies using populations of European American, African American and Korean subjects. Our combined European-derived population, consisting of 2463 independent cases and 3131 unrelated controls, demonstrates significant association with rs6983130 in a female-only analysis with 2254 cases and 2228 controls (p=1.1 × 10−4, OR=0.81 (95% CI: 0.73 – 0.90)). This SNP is located in the 5′ UTR within the first intron near the transcription initiation site of LYN. Additional SNPs upstream of the first exon also show weak and sporadic association in subsets of the total European American population. Multivariate logistic regression analysis implicates rs6983130 as a protective factor for SLE susceptibility when anti-dsDNA, anti-chromatin, anti-52 kDa Ro or anti-Sm autoantibody status were used as covariates. Subset analysis of the European American female cases by ACR classification criteria reveals a reduction in the risk of hematologic disorder with rs6983130 compared to cases without hematologic disorders (p=1.5 × 10−3, OR=0.75 (95% C.I.=0.62-0.89)). None of the 90 SNPs tested demonstrate significant association with SLE in the African American or Korean populations. These results support an association of LYN with European-derived individuals with SLE, especially within autoantibody or clinical subsets.
PMCID: PMC2750001  PMID: 19369946
systemic lupus erythematosus; association; LYN; SNP
17.  Replication of the BANK1 genetic association with systemic lupus erythematosus in a European-Derived Population 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):531-538.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with highly variable clinical presentation. Patients suffer from immunological abnormalities that target T cell, B cell and accessory cell functions. B cells are hyperactive in SLE patients. An adaptor protein expressed in B cells called BANK1 (B-cell scaffold protein with ankyrin repeats) was reported in a previous study to be associated with SLE in a European population. The objective of this study is to assess the BANK1 genotype-phenotype association in an independent replication sample. We genotyped 38 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in BANK1 on 1892 European-derived SLE patients and 2652 European-derived controls. The strongest associations with SLE and BANK1 were at rs17266594 (corrected p-value=1.97 × 10−5, OR=1.22, 95% C.I.(1.12–1.34)) and rs10516487 (corrected p-value=2.59 × 10−5, OR=1.22, 95% C.I.(1.11–1.34)). Our findings suggest that the association is explained by these two SNPs, confirming previous reports that these polymorphisms contribute to the risk of developing lupus. Analysis of patient subsets enriched for hematological, immunological and renal ACR criteria or the levels of autoantibodies, such as anti-RNP A and anti-SmRNP, uncovers additional BANK1 associations. Our results suggest that BANK1 polymorphisms alter immune system development and function to increase the risk for developing lupus.
PMCID: PMC2736873  PMID: 19339986
systemic lupus erythematosus; replication; association; European; BANK1
18.  Systemic IFNα drives kidney nephritis in B6.Sle123 mice 
European journal of immunology  2008;38(7):1948-1960.
The impact of IFNα secretion on disease progression was assessed by comparing phenotypic changes in the lupus-prone B6.Sle1Sle2Sle3 (B6.Sle123) strain and the parental B6 congenic partner using an adenovirus expression vector containing a recombinant IFNα gene cassette (IFN-ADV). A comprehensive comparison of cell lineage composition and activation in young B6 and B6.Sle123 mice revealed a variety of cellular alterations in the presence and absence of systemic IFNα. Most IFNα-induced phenotypes were similar in B6 and B6.Sle123, however, B6.Sle123 mice uniquely exhibited increased B1 and plasma cells after IFNα exposure, although both strains had an overall loss of mature B cells in the bone marrow, spleen and periphery. Although most of the cellular effects of IFNα were identical in both strains, severe GN only occurred in B6.Sle123 mice. Mice injected with IFN-ADV showed an increase in immune complex deposition in the kidney, together with an unexpected decrease in serum ANA levels. In summary, the predominant impact of systemic IFNα in this murine model is an exacerbation of mechanisms mediating end organ damage.
PMCID: PMC2699327  PMID: 18506882
SLE; IFN; congenic
19.  T cell hyperactivity in lupus as a consequence of hyperstimulatory antigen-presenting cells 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(7):1869-1878.
Sle3 is an NZM2410-derived lupus susceptibility locus on murine chromosome 7. Congenic recombination has resulted in a novel mouse strain, B6.Sle3, associated with serum antinuclear autoantibodies (ANAs), T cell hyperactivity, and elevated CD4/CD8 ratios. An OVA-specific TCR transgene was used as a tool to demonstrate that Sle3 facilitated heightened T cell expansion in vitro, and in vivo, following antigen challenge. Indeed, continued T cell expansion was noted even in response to a tolerogenic signal. However, these phenotypes did not appear to be T cell intrinsic but were dictated by hyperstimulatory B6.Sle3 APCs. Importantly, B6.Sle3-derived DCs and macrophages appeared to be significantly more mature/activated, less apoptotic, and more proinflammatory and were better at costimulating T cells in vitro, compared with the B6 counterparts. Finally, the adoptive transfer of B6.Sle3-derived DCs into healthy B6 recipients elicited increased CD4/CD8 ratios and serum ANAs, 2 cardinal Sle3-associated phenotypes. We posit that their heightened expression of various costimulatory molecules, including CD80, CD106, I-Ab, and CD40, and their elevated production of various cytokines, including IL-12 and IL-1β, may explain why Sle3-bearing DCs may be superior at breaching self tolerance. These studies provide mechanistic evidence indicating that intrinsic abnormalities in DCs and possibly other myeloid cells may dictate several of the phenotypes associated with systemic lupus, including ANA formation and T cell hyperactivity.
PMCID: PMC1143586  PMID: 15951839
20.  Genetic Modifiers of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in FcγRIIB−/− Mice 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2002;195(9):1167-1174.
FcγRIIB is a potent lupus susceptibility gene as demonstrated by the observation that mice deficient in this molecule develop spontaneous antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and fatal glomerulonephritis when on the C57BL/6 background. To determine the mechanisms underlying the epistasis displayed by this gene we have constructed hybrids between FcγRIIB−/− and the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) modifiers yaa and lpr and the susceptibility locus Sle1. Sle1 and B6.RIIB−/− are both physically and functionally coupled; compound heterozygotes of Sle1 and B6.RIIB−/− develop significant disease, while single heterozygotes display no evidence of autoimmunity or disease, indicating that these genes lie on the same genetic pathway resulting in the loss of tolerance to nuclear antigens. However, the generation of ANA in itself is insufficient to account for the severity of autoimmune disease in this model, as demonstrated by analysis of yaa and lpr hybrids. Thus, B6.RIIB−/−/lpr mice are protected from disease progression, despite equivalent titers of ANA. In contrast, B6.RIIB−/−/yaa mice have significantly enhanced disease despite reduced ANA titers. Yaa modifies the specificity and thus the pathogenicity of the B6. RIIB−/− ANA, by converting them to antinucleolar antibodies. In addition to these known modifier pathways, we have discovered two novel, recessive loci contributed by the C57BL/6 genome that are required for the ANA phenotype, further indicating the epistatic properties of this SLE model.
PMCID: PMC2193704  PMID: 11994421
lpr; yaa; Sle1; autoantibodies; glomerulonephritis
21.  Susceptibility genes in the pathogenesis of murine lupus 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(Suppl 3):S255-S263.
Chapter summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the paradigm of a multisystem autoimmune disease in which genetic factors strongly influence susceptibility. Through genome scans and congenic dissection, numerous loci associated with lupus susceptibility have been defined and the complexity of the inheritance of this disease has been revealed. In this review, we provide a brief description of animal models of SLE, both spontaneous models and synthetic models, with an emphasis on the B6 congenic model derived from analyses of the NZM2410 strain. A hypothetical model of disease progression that organizes many of the identified SLE susceptibility loci in three distinct biological pathways that interact to mediate disease pathogenesis is also described. We finally discuss our recent fine mapping analysis, which revealed a cluster of loci that actually comprise the Sle1 locus.
PMCID: PMC3240158  PMID: 12110145
antinuclear autoantibodies; autoimmunity; congenic dissection; murine lupus; SLE
22.  Genetic dissection of lupus pathogenesis: a recipe for nephrophilic autoantibodies 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1999;103(12):1685-1695.
Sle1 and Sle3 are 2 loci that confer susceptibility to lupus nephritis in the NZM2410 strain of mice. Our previous work has shown that B6.NZMc1 mice, congenic for Sle1, exhibit loss of tolerance to chromatin but do not develop any pathogenic autoantibodies or disease. B6.NZMc7 mice, congenic for Sle3, exhibit low-grade polyclonal B- and T-cell activation, elevated CD4/CD8 ratios, and mildly penetrant glomerulonephritis. In contrast to these monocongenics, the present study reveals that B6.NZMc1|c7 mice, bicongenic for Sle1 and Sle3, exhibit splenomegaly, significantly expanded populations of activated B and CD4+ T cells, and a robust, variegated IgG autoantibody response targeting multiple components of chromatin (including double-stranded DNA), intact glomeruli, and basement membrane matrix antigens. As one might predict, these mice, particularly the females, exhibit highly penetrant glomerulonephritis.
These findings lend strong support to a two-step epistatic model for the formation of pathogenic, nephrophilic autoantibodies in lupus. Whereas loci such as Sle1 may serve to breach tolerance to chromatin, full-blown pathogenic maturation of the autoantibody response appears to require additional input from other loci (such as Sle3) and gender-based factors.
J. Clin. Invest. 103:1685–1695 (1999).
PMCID: PMC408382  PMID: 10377175
23.  SNPs in VKORC1 are Risk Factors for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Asians 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(1):211-215.
The increased risk of thrombosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may be partially explained by interrelated genetic pathways for thrombosis and SLE. In a case-control analysis, we investigated whether 33 established and novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 20 genes involved in hemostasis pathways that have been associated with deep venous thrombosis in the general population were risk factors for SLE development among Asians.
Patients in the discovery cohort were enrolled in one of two North American SLE cohorts. Patients in the replication cohort were enrolled in one of four Asian or two North American cohorts. SLE cases met American College of Rheumatology classification criteria. We first genotyped 263 Asian SLE and 357 healthy Asian control individuals for 33 SNPs using Luminex multiplex technology in the discovery phase, and then used Taqman and Immunochip assays to examine 5 SNPs in up to an additional 1496 cases and 993 controls in the Replication phase. SLE patients were compared to healthy controls for association with minor alleles in allelic models. Principal components analysis was used to control for intra-Asian ancestry in an analysis of the replication cohort.
Two genetic variants in the gene VKORC1, rs9934438 and rs9923231, were highly significant in both the discovery and replication cohorts: OR(disc) = 2.45 (p=2×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6) and OR(disc) = 2.40 (p=6×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6), respectively. These associations were significant in the replication cohort after adjustment for intra-Asian ancestry: rs9934438 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0029) and rs9923231 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0032).
Genetic variants in VKORC1, involved in vitamin K reduction and associated with DVT, are associated with SLE development in Asians. These results suggest intersecting genetic pathways for the development of SLE and thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC3670944  PMID: 23124848
systemic lupus erythematosus; single nucleotide polymorphisms; genetic risk factors
24.  Dense genotyping of immune-related disease regions identifies 14 new susceptibility loci for juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):664-669.
Analysis of the ImmunoChip single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array in 2816 individuals, comprising the most common subtypes (oligoarticular and RF negative polyarticular) of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and 13056 controls strengthens the evidence for association to three known JIA-risk loci (HLA, PTPN22 and PTPN2) and has identified fourteen risk loci reaching genome-wide significance (p < 5 × 10-8) for the first time. Eleven additional novel regions showed suggestive evidence for association with JIA (p < 1 × 10-6). Dense-mapping of loci along with bioinformatic analysis has refined the association to one gene for eight regions, highlighting crucial pathways, including the IL-2 pathway, in JIA disease pathogenesis. The entire ImmunoChip loci, HLA region and the top 27 loci (p < 1 × 10-6) explain an estimated 18%, 13% and 6% risk of JIA, respectively. Analysis of the ImmunoChip dataset, the largest cohort of JIA cases investigated to date, provides new insight in understanding the genetic basis for this childhood autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC3673707  PMID: 23603761
25.  An Enhancer Element Harboring Variants Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Engages the TNFAIP3 Promoter to Influence A20 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(9):e1003750.
Functional characterization of causal variants present on risk haplotypes identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) is a primary objective of human genetics. In this report, we evaluate the function of a pair of tandem polymorphic dinucleotides, 42 kb downstream of the promoter of TNFAIP3, (rs148314165, rs200820567, collectively referred to as TT>A) recently nominated as causal variants responsible for genetic association of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with tumor necrosis factor alpha inducible protein 3 (TNFAIP3). TNFAIP3 encodes the ubiquitin-editing enzyme, A20, a key negative regulator of NF-κB signaling. A20 expression is reduced in subjects carrying the TT>A risk alleles; however, the underlying functional mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. We used a combination of electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), mass spectrometry (MS), reporter assays, chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR (ChIP-PCR) and chromosome conformation capture (3C) EBV transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL) from individuals carrying risk and non-risk TNFAIP3 haplotypes to characterize the effect of TT>A on A20 expression. Our results demonstrate that the TT>A variants reside in an enhancer element that binds NF-κB and SATB1 enabling physical interaction of the enhancer with the TNFAIP3 promoter through long-range DNA looping. Impaired binding of NF-κB to the TT>A risk alleles or knockdown of SATB1 expression by shRNA, inhibits the looping interaction resulting in reduced A20 expression. Together, these data reveal a novel mechanism of TNFAIP3 transcriptional regulation and establish the functional basis by which the TT>A risk variants attenuate A20 expression through inefficient delivery of NF-κB to the TNFAIP3 promoter. These results provide critical functional evidence supporting a direct causal role for TT>A in the genetic predisposition to SLE.
Author Summary
A key objective of human genetics is the identification and characterization of variants responsible for association with complex diseases. A pair of single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs148314165, rs200820567) 42 kb downstream from the promoter of TNFAIP3, have been proposed as the variants responsible for association with systemic lupus erythematosus based on comprehensive genetic and bioinformatic analyses. TNFAIP3 encodes for the ubiquitin-editing enzyme, A20, which plays a central role in maintaining immune system homeostasis through restriction of NF-κB signaling. Cells that carry this risk haplotype express low levels of TNFAIP3 compared to cells carrying the nonrisk haplotype. How the risk alleles of rs148314165 and rs200820567 might influence low TNFAIP3 expression is unknown. In this paper, we demonstrate that these variants reside in an enhancer element that binds NF-κB and SATB1 enabling the interaction of the enhancer with the TNFAIP3 promoter through long-range DNA looping. Impaired binding of NF-κB directly to the risk alleles or shRNA-mediated knockdown of SATB1 inhibits interaction of the enhancer with the TNFAIP3 promoter resulting in reduced A20 expression. These results clarify the functional mechanism by which rs148314165 and rs200820567 attenuate A20 expression and support a causal role for these variants in the predisposition to autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC3764111  PMID: 24039598

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