Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystem complex autoimmune disease of uncertain etiology (OMIM 152700). Over recent years a genetic component to SLE susceptibility has been established1–3. Recent successes with association studies in SLE have identified genes including IRF5 (refs. 4,5) and FCGR3B6. Two tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily members located within intervals showing genetic linkage with SLE are TNFSF4 (also known as OX40L; 1q25), which is expressed on activated antigen-presenting cells (APCs)7,8 and vascular endothelial cells9, and also its unique receptor, TNFRSF4 (also known as OX40; 1p36), which is primarily expressed on activated CD4+ T cells10. TNFSF4 produces a potent co-stimulatory signal for activated CD4+ T cells after engagement of TNFRSF4 (ref. 11). Using both a family-based and a case-control study design, we show that the upstream region of TNFSF4 contains a single risk haplotype for SLE, which is correlated with increased expression of both cell-surface TNFSF4 and the TNFSF4 transcript. We hypothesize that increased expression of TNFSF4 predisposes to SLE either by quantitatively augmenting T cell–APC interaction or by influencing the functional consequences of T cell activation via TNFRSF4.
CXCR7 (RDC1), a G-protein-coupled receptor with conserved motifs characteristic of chemokine receptors, is enriched in endocardial and cushion mesenchymal cells in developing hearts, but its function is unclear. Cxcr7 germline deletion resulted in perinatal lethality with complete penetrance. Mutant embryos exhibited aortic and pulmonary valve stenosis due to semilunar valve thickening, with occasional ventricular septal defects. Semilunar valve mesenchymal cell proliferation increased in mutants from embryonic day 14 onward, but the cell death rate remained unchanged. Cxcr7 mutant valves had increased levels of phosphorylated Smad1/5/8, indicating increased BMP signaling, which may partly explain the thickened valve leaflets. The hyperproliferative phenotype appeared to involve Cxcr7 function in endocardial cells and their mesenchymal derivatives, as Tie2-Cre Cxcr7flox/- mice had semilunar valve stenosis. Thus, CXCR7 is involved in semilunar valve development, possibly by regulating BMP signaling, and may contribute to aortic and pulmonary valve stenosis.
Selective immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgAD) is the most common primary immunodeficiency in Caucasians. It has previously been suggested to be associated with a variety of concomitant autoimmune diseases. In this review, we present data on the prevalence of IgAD in patients with Graves disease (GD), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), type 1 diabetes (T1D), celiac disease (CD), myasthenia gravis (MG) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on the basis of both our own recent large-scale screening results and literature data. Genetic factors are important for the development of both IgAD and various autoimmune disorders, including GD, SLE, T1D, CD, MG and RA, and a strong association with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region has been reported. In addition, non-MHC genes, such as interferon-induced helicase 1 (IFIH1) and c-type lectin domain family 16, member A (CLEC16A), are also associated with the development of IgAD and some of the above diseases. This indicates a possible common genetic background. In this review, we present suggestive evidence for a shared genetic predisposition between these disorders.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex trait characterised by the production of a range of auto-antibodies and a diverse set of clinical phenotypes. Currently, ∼8% of the genetic contribution to SLE in Europeans is known, following publication of several moderate-sized genome-wide (GW) association studies, which identified loci with a strong effect (OR>1.3). In order to identify additional genes contributing to SLE susceptibility, we conducted a replication study in a UK dataset (870 cases, 5,551 controls) of 23 variants that showed moderate-risk for lupus in previous studies. Association analysis in the UK dataset and subsequent meta-analysis with the published data identified five SLE susceptibility genes reaching genome-wide levels of significance (Pcomb<5×10−8): NCF2 (Pcomb = 2.87×10−11), IKZF1 (Pcomb = 2.33×10−9), IRF8 (Pcomb = 1.24×10−8), IFIH1 (Pcomb = 1.63×10−8), and TYK2 (Pcomb = 3.88×10−8). Each of the five new loci identified here can be mapped into interferon signalling pathways, which are known to play a key role in the pathogenesis of SLE. These results increase the number of established susceptibility genes for lupus to ∼30 and validate the importance of using large datasets to confirm associations of loci which moderately increase the risk for disease.
Genome-wide association studies have revolutionised our ability to identify common susceptibility alleles for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In complex diseases such as SLE, where many different genes make a modest contribution to disease susceptibility, it is necessary to perform large-scale association studies to combine results from several datasets, to have sufficient power to identify highly significant novel loci (P<5×10−8). Using a large SLE collection of 870 UK SLE cases and 5,551 UK unaffected individuals, we firstly replicated ten moderate-risk alleles (P<0.05) from a US–Swedish study of 3,273 SLE cases and 12,188 healthy controls. Combining our results with the US-Swedish data identified five new loci, which crossed the level for genome-wide significance: NCF2 (neutrophil cytosolic factor 2), IKZF1 (Ikaros family zinc-finger 1), IRF8 (interferon regulatory factor 8), IFIH1 (interferon-induced helicase C domain-containing protein 1), and TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2). Each of these five genes regulates a different aspect of the immune response and contributes to the production of type-I and type-II interferons. Although further studies will be required to identify the causal alleles within these loci, the confirmation of five new susceptibility genes for lupus makes a significant step forward in our understanding of the genetic contribution to SLE.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of antinuclear autoantibodies and the inflammatory infiltration of many organ systems. SLE is a complex disorder in which multiple genetic variants, together with environmental and hormonal factors, contribute to disease risk. In this article, we summarize our current understanding of the genetic contribution to SLE in light of recent genome-wide association studies, which have brought the total number of confirmed SLE susceptibility loci to 29. In the second section, we explore the functional implications of these risk loci and, in particular, highlight the role that many of these genes play in the Toll-like receptor and type I interferon signaling pathways. Finally, we discuss the genetic overlap between SLE and other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions as several risk loci are shared among multiple disorders, suggesting common underlying pathogenic mechanisms.
genome-wide association studies; pathogenesis; systemic lupus erythematosus; Toll-like receptor signaling; type I interferon signaling
Mutations in the gene coding for transmembrane activator and calcium-modulating cyclophilin ligand interactor (TACI) have been identified in common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). Mutations coincided with immunodeficiency in families, suggesting dominant inheritance.
Because most subjects with CVID have no immunodeficient family members and heterozygous mutations predominate, the role of TACI mutations in sporadic CVID is unclear.
TACI was sequenced from the genomic DNA of 176 subjects with CVID and family members. B cells of subjects with or without mutations were examined for binding to the ligand, a proliferation inducing ligand (APRIL), and for proliferation and immunoglobulin production after ligand
Heterozygous TACI mutations were found in 13 subjects (7.3%). Six with mutations (46%) had episodes of autoimmune thrombocytopenia, in contrast with 12% of 163 subjects without mutations; splenomegaly and splenectomy were significantly increased (P = .012; P = .001.) B cells of some had impaired binding of APRIL and on culture with this ligand were defective in proliferation and immunoglobulin production; however, this was not different from B cells of subjects without mutations. Eight first-degree relatives from 5 families had the same mutations but were not immune-deficient, and their B cells produced normal amounts of IgG and IgA after APRIL stimulation.
Mutations in TACI significantly predispose to autoimmunity and lymphoid hyperplasia in CVID, but additional genetic or environmental factors are required to induce immune deficiency.
Additional causes of this common immune deficiency syndrome remain to be determined.
Common variable immune deficiency; TACI; B cell; IgG; IgA; immune thrombocytopenia purpura; splenectomy
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease characterized by unpredictable flares of disease activity and irreversible damage to multiple organ systems. An earlier study showed that SLE patients carrying an interferon gene expression signature in blood have elevated serum levels of interferon (IFN)-regulated chemokines. These chemokines were associated with more severe and active disease and showed promise as SLE disease activity biomarkers. This study was designed to validate IFN regulated chemokines as biomarkers of SLE disease activity in 267 longitudinally-followed SLE patients.
To validate the potential utility of serum chemokine levels as biomarkers for disease activity, we measured serum chemokine levels – CXCL10 (IP-10), CCL2 (MCP-1), and CCL19 (MIP-3B) – in an independent cohort of 267 SLE patients followed longitudinally over one year (1166 total visits).
Serum chemokine levels correlated with current visit lupus activity (p=2×10−10), rising at flare (p=1×10−3) and decreasing as disease remitted (p=1×10−3), and performed better than currently available laboratory tests. Chemokine levels measured at a single baseline visit in patients with SLEDAI ≤4 were predictive of lupus flare over the ensuing year (p=6×10−4).
Monitoring serum chemokine levels in SLE may improve assessment of current disease activity, the prediction of future flare, and overall clinical decision-making.
SLE is an autoimmune disease influenced by genetic and environmental components. We performed a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) and observed novel association evidence with a variant inTNFAIP3(rs5029939, P = 2.89×10−12, OR = 2.29). We also found evidence of two independent signals of association to SLE risk, including one described in Rheumatoid Arthritis. These results establish that genetic variation inTNFAIP3contributes to differential risk for SLE and RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease with a substantial genetic component. Susceptibility to disease has been linked with a region on chromosome 2q.
We tested single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in and around 13 candidate genes within the previously linked chromosome 2q region for association with rheumatoid arthritis. We then performed fine mapping of the STAT1-STAT4 region in a total of 1620 case patients with established rheumatoid arthritis and 2635 controls, all from North America. Implicated SNPs were further tested in an independent case-control series of 1529 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis and 881 controls, all from Sweden, and in a total of 1039 case patients and 1248 controls from three series of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
A SNP haplotype in the third intron of STAT4 was associated with susceptibility to both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. The minor alleles of the haplotype-defining SNPs were present in 27% of chromosomes of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis, as compared with 22% of those of controls (for the SNP rs7574865, P = 2.81×10-7; odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.32). The association was replicated in Swedish patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis (P = 0.02) and matched controls. The haplotype marked by rs7574865 was strongly associated with lupus, being present on 31% of chromosomes of case patients and 22% of those of controls (P = 1.87×10-9; odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.55). Homozygosity of the risk allele, as compared with absence of the allele, was associated with a more than doubled risk for lupus and a 60% increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
A haplotype of STAT4 is associated with increased risk for both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, suggesting a shared pathway for these illnesses.
The prediction of response (or non-response) to anti-TNF treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a pressing clinical problem. We conducted a genome-wide association study using the Illumina HapMap300 SNP chip on 89 RA patients prospectively followed after beginning anti-TNF therapy as part of Autoimmune Biomarkers Collaborative Network (ABCoN [Autoimmune Bio-markers Collaborative Network]) patient cohort. Response to therapy was determined by the change in Disease Activity Score (DAS28) observed after 14 wks. We used a two-part analysis that treated the change in DAS28 as a continuous trait and then incorporated it into a dichotomous trait of “good responder” and “nonresponder” by European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria. We corrected for multiple tests by permutation, and adjusted for potential population stratification using EIGENSTRAT. Multiple single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers showed significant associations near or within loci including: the v-maf musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog B (MAFB) gene on chromosome 20; the type I interferon gene IFNk on chromosome 9; and in a locus on chromosome 7 that includes the paraoxonase I (PON1) gene. An SNP in the IL10 promoter (rs1800896) that was previously reported as associated with anti-TNF response was weakly associated with response in this cohort. Replications of these results in independent and larger data sets clearly are required. We provide a reference list of candidate SNPs (P < 0.01) that can be investigated in future pharmacogenomic studies.
Recent studies have shown increased expression of interferon (IFN)-regulated genes in the peripheral blood cells of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. A similar interferon signature has been observed in affected muscle tissue from patients with dermatomyositis (DM), but it has not yet been determined if this signature extends to the peripheral blood in DM. We performed global gene expression profiling of peripheral blood cells from adult and juvenile DM patients and healthy controls. Several interesting groups of genes were differentially expressed in DM, including genes with immune function, and others that function in muscle or are involved in mitochondrial/oxidative phosphorylation. Investigation of type I IFN-regulated transcripts revealed a striking interferon signature present in most DM patients studied. Levels of type I IFN-regulated proteins were also elevated in DM serum samples. Furthermore, both the transcript and serum protein IFN signatures were associated with disease activity. These data suggest that the IFN signature may be a useful marker for DM disease activity, and that sampling peripheral blood may be a more practical alternative to muscle biopsy for measuring this signature.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic and erosive form of arthritis of unknown cause. We aimed to characterize the PsA phenotype using gene expression profiling and comparing it with healthy control subjects and patients rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Peripheral blood cells (PBCs) of 19 patients with active PsA and 19 age- and sex-matched control subjects were used in the analyses of PsA, with blood samples collected in PaxGene tubes. A significant alteration in the pattern of expression of 313 genes was noted in the PBCs of PsA patients on Affymetrix U133A arrays: 257 genes were expressed at reduced levels in PsA, and 56 genes were expressed at increased levels, compared with controls. Downregulated genes tended to cluster to certain chromosomal regions, including those containing the psoriasis susceptibility loci PSORS1 and PSORS2. Among the genes with the most significantly reduced expression were those involved in downregulation or suppression of innate and acquired immune responses, such as SIGIRR, STAT3, SHP1, IKBKB, IL-11RA, and TCF7, suggesting inappropriate control that favors proin-flammatory responses. Several members of the MAPK signaling pathway and tumor suppressor genes showed reduced expression. Three proinflammatory genes—S100A8, S100A12, and thioredoxin—showed increased expression. Logistic regression and recursive partitioning analysis determined that one gene, nucleoporin 62 kDa, could correctly classify all controls and 94.7% of the PsA patients. Using a dataset of 48 RA samples for comparison, the combination of two genes, MAP3K3 followed by CACNA1S, was enough to correctly classify all RA and PsA patients. Thus, PBC gene expression profiling identified a gene expression signature that differentiated PsA from RA, and PsA from controls. Several novel genes were differentially expressed in PsA and may prove to be diagnostic biomarkers or serve as new targets for the development of therapies.
The life history of isotype-switched B cells is unclear, in part, because of an inability to detect rare antigen-specific B cells at early times during the immune response. To address this issue, a small population of B cells carrying targeted antibody transgenes capable of class switching was monitored in immunized mice. After contacting helper T cells, the first switched B cells appeared in follicles rather than in the red pulp, as was expected. Later, some of the switched B cells transiently occupied the red pulp and marginal zone, whereas others persisted in germinal centers (GCs). Antigen-experienced IgM B cells were rarely found in GCs, indicating that these cells switched rapidly after entering GCs or did not persist in this environment.
lymphocyte activation; marginal zone; T cells; transgenic mice; germinal centers
Clonal anergy of autoreactive B cells is a key mechanism regulating tolerance. Here, we show that anergic B cells express significant surface levels of CD5, a molecule normally found on T cells and a subset of B-1 cells. Breeding of the hen egg lysozyme (HEL) transgenic model for B cell anergy onto the CD5 null background resulted in a spontaneous loss of B cell tolerance in vivo. Evidence for this included elevated levels of anti-HEL immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies in the serum of CD5−/− mice transgenic for both an HEL-specific B cell receptor (BCR) and soluble lysozyme. “Anergic” B cells lacking CD5 also showed enhanced proliferative responses in vitro and elevated intracellular Ca2+ levels at rest and after IgM cross-linking. These data support the hypothesis that CD5 negatively regulates Ig receptor signaling in anergic B cells and functions to inhibit autoimmune B cell responses.
CD5; hen egg lysozyme; B cell; anergy; signal transduction
The role of apoptosis in affinity maturation was investigated by determining the affinity of (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl)acetyl (NP)-specific antibody-forming cells (AFCs) and serum antibody in transgenic mice that overexpress a suppressor of apoptosis, Bcl-xL, in the B cell compartment. Although transgenic animals briefly expressed higher numbers of splenic AFCs after immunization, the bcl-xL transgene did not increase the number or size of germinal centers (GCs), alter the levels of serum antibody, or change the frequency of NP-specific, long-lived AFCs. Nonetheless, the bcl-xL transgene product, in addition to endogenous Bcl-xL, reduced apoptosis in GC B cells and resulted in the expansion of B lymphocytes bearing VDJ rearrangements that are usually rare in primary anti-NP responses. Long-lived AFCs bearing these noncanonical rearrangements were frequent in the bone marrow and secreted immunoglobulin G1 antibodies with low affinity for NP. The abundance of noncanonical cells lowered the average affinity of long-lived AFCs and serum antibody, demonstrating that Bcl-xL and apoptosis influence clonal selection/maintenance for affinity maturation.
Bcl-xL; apoptosis; affinity maturation; germinal center; clonal selection
Mutations in the tyrosine kinase, Btk, result in a mild immunodeficiency in mice (xid). While B lymphocytes from xid mice do not proliferate to anti-immunoglobulin (Ig), we show here induction of the complete complement of cell cycle regulatory molecules, though the level of induction is about half that detected in normal B cells. Cell cycle analysis reveals that anti-Ig stimulated xid B cells enter S phase, but fail to complete the cell cycle, exhibiting a high rate of apoptosis. This correlated with a decreased ability to induce the anti-apoptosis regulatory protein, Bcl-xL. Ectopic expression of Bcl-xL in xid B cells permitted anti-Ig induced cell cycle progression demonstrating dual requirements for induction of anti-apoptotic proteins plus cell cycle regulatory proteins during antigen receptor mediated proliferation. Furthermore, our results link one of the immunodeficient traits caused by mutant Btk with the failure to properly regulate Bcl-xL.
Jaw1 is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident protein representative of a class of proteins post translationally inserted into membranes via a type II membrane anchor (cytosolic NH2 domain, lumenal COOH domain) in a translocon-independent manner. We found that Jaw1 can efficiently deliver a COOH-terminal antigenic peptide to class I molecules in transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-deficient cells or cells in which TAP is inactivated by the ICP47 protein. Peptide delivery mediated by Jaw1 to class I molecules was equal or better than that mediated by the adenovirus E3/19K glycoprotein signal sequence, and was sufficient to enable cytofluorographic detection of newly recruited thermostabile class I molecules at the surface of TAP-deficient cells. Deletion of the transmembrane region retargeted Jaw1 from the ER to the cytosol, and severely, although incompletely, abrogated its TAP-independent peptide carrier activity. Use of different protease inhibitors revealed the involvement of a nonproteasomal protease in the TAP-independent activity of cytosolic Jaw1. These findings demonstrate two novel TAP-independent routes of antigen processing; one based on highly efficient peptide liberation from the COOH terminus of membrane proteins in the ER, the other on delivery of a cytosolic protein to the ER by an unknown route.
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.
systemic lupus erythematosus; genetic-association study; Asian; Caucasian
C-src tyrosine kinase, Csk, physically interacts with the intracellular phosphatase Lyp (PTPN22) and can modify the activation state of downstream Src kinases, such as Lyn, in lymphocytes. We identified an association of Csk with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and refined its location to an intronic polymorphism rs34933034 (OR 1.32, p = 1.04 × 10−9). The risk allele is associated with increased CSK expression and augments inhibitory phosphorylation of Lyn. In carriers of the risk allele, B cell receptor (BCR)-mediated activation of mature B cells, as well as plasma IgM, are increased. Moreover, the fraction of transitional B cells is doubled in the cord blood of carriers of the risk allele compared to non-risk haplotypes due to an expansion of the late transitional cells, a stage targeted by selection mechanisms. This suggests that the Lyp-Csk complex increases susceptibility to lupus at multiple maturation and activation points of B cells.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common systemic autoimmune disease with complex etiology but strong clustering in families (λS = ~30). We performed a genome-wide association scan using 317,501 SNPs in 720 women of European ancestry with SLE and in 2,337 controls, and we genotyped consistently associated SNPs in two additional independent sample sets totaling 1,846 affected women and 1,825 controls. Aside from the expected strong association between SLE and the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and the previously confirmed non-HLA locus IRF5 on chromosome 7q32, we found evidence of association with replication (1.1 × 10−7 < Poverall < 1.6 × 10−23; odds ratio 0.82–1.62)in four regions: 16p11.2 (ITGAM), 11p15.5 (KIAA1542), 3p14.3 (PXK) and 1q25.1 (rs10798269). We also found evidence for association (P < 1 × 10−5) at FCGR2A, PTPN22 and STAT4, regions previously associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, as well as at ≥9 other loci (P < 2 × 10−7). Our results show that numerous genes, some with known immune-related functions, predispose to SLE.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II transactivator gene (CIITA) encodes an important transcription factor required for HLA class II MHC-restricted antigen presentation. MHC genes, including the HLA class II DRB1*03:01 allele, are strongly associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Recently the rs4774 CIITA missense variant (+1632G/C) was reported to be associated with susceptibility to multiple sclerosis. In the current study, we investigated CIITA, DRB1*03:01 and risk of SLE using a multi-stage analysis. In stage 1, 9 CIITA variants were tested in 658 cases and 1,363 controls (N = 2,021). In stage 2, rs4774 was tested in 684 cases and 2,938 controls (N = 3,622). We also performed a meta-analysis of the pooled 1,342 cases and 4,301 controls (N = 5,643). In stage 1, rs4774*C was associated with SLE (odds ratio [OR] = 1.24, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 1.07–1.44, P = 4.2 × 10−3). Similar results were observed in stage 2 (OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.02–1.33, P = 8.5×10−3) and the meta-analysis of the combined dataset (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.09–1.33, Pmeta = 2.5×10−4). In all three analyses, the strongest evidence for association between rs4774*C and SLE was present in individuals who carried at least one copy of DRB1*03:01 (Pmeta= 1.9×10−3). Results support a role for CIITA in SLE, which appears to be stronger in the presence of DRB1*03:01.
systemic lupus erythematosus; autoimmunity; major histocompatibility complex; HLA; CIITA; MHC2TA
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.
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.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in several populations have demonstrated significant association of the IL23R gene with IBD (Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC)) and psoriasis, suggesting that perturbation of the IL-23 signaling pathway is relevant to the pathophysiology of these diseases. One particular variant, R381Q (rs11209026), confers strong protection against development of CD. We investigated the effects of this variant in primary T cells from healthy donors carrying IL23RR381 and IL23RQ381 haplotypes. Using a proprietary anti-IL23R antibody, ELISA, flow cytometry, phosphoflow and real-time RT-PCR methods, we examined IL23R expression and STAT3 phosphorylation and activation in response to IL-23. IL23RQ381 was associated with reduced STAT3 phosphorylation upon stimulation with IL-23 and decreased number of IL-23 responsive T-cells. We also observed slightly reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokine secretion in IL23RQ381 positive donors. Our study shows conclusively that IL23RQ381 is a loss-of-function allele, further strengthening the implication from GWAS results that the IL-23 pathway is pathogenic in human disease. This data provides an explanation for the protective role of R381Q in CD and may lead to the development of improved therapeutics for autoimmune disorders like CD.