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1.  A sequence-based approach demonstrates that balancing selection in classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci is asymmetric 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(2):252-261.
Balancing selection has maintained human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele diversity, but it is unclear whether this selection is symmetric (all heterozygotes are comparable and all homozygotes are comparable in terms of fitness) or asymmetric (distinct heterozygote genotypes display greater fitness than others). We tested the hypothesis that HLA is under asymmetric balancing selection in populations by estimating allelic branch lengths from genetic sequence data encoding peptide-binding domains. Significant deviations indicated changes in the ratio of terminal to internal branch lengths. Such deviations could arise even if no individual alleles present a strikingly altered branch length (e.g. if there is an overall distortion, with all or many terminal branches being longer than expected). DQ and DP loci were also analyzed as haplotypes. Using allele frequencies for 419 distinct populations in 10 geographical regions, we examined population differentiation in alleles within and between regions, and the relationship between allelic branch length and frequency. The strongest evidence for asymmetrical balancing selection was observed for HLA-DRB1, HLA-B and HLA-DPA1, with significant deviation (P ≤ 1.1 × 10−4) in about half of the populations. There were significant results at all loci except HLA-DQB1/DQA1. We observed moderate genetic variation within and between geographic regions, similar to the rest of the genome. Branch length was not correlated with allele frequency. In conclusion, sequence data suggest that balancing selection in HLA is asymmetric (some heterozygotes enjoy greater fitness than others). Because HLA polymorphism is crucial for pathogen resistance, this may manifest as a frequency-dependent selection with fluctuation in the fitness of specific heterozygotes over time.
PMCID: PMC3526157  PMID: 23065702
2.  CIITA is not associated with risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis 
Genes and immunity  2011;12(3):235-238.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II transactivator gene (CIITA) encodes an important transcription factor regulating genes required for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II MHC-restricted antigen presentation. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, particularly HLA class II, are strongly associated with risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Given the strong biological relationship between CIITA and HLA class II genes, a comprehensive investigation of CIITA variation in RA was conducted. This study tested 31 CIITA SNPs in 2542 RA cases and 3690 controls (N = 6232). All individuals were of European ancestry, as determined by ancestry informative genetic markers. No evidence for association between CIITA variation and RA was observed after a correction for multiple testing was applied. This is the largest study to fully characterize common genetic variation in CIITA, including an assessment of haplotypes. Results exclude even a modest role for common CIITA polymorphisms in susceptibility to RA.
PMCID: PMC3449225  PMID: 21248776
rheumatoid arthritis; autoimmunity; CIITA; MHC2TA
3.  The rs4774 CIITA missense variant is associated with risk of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Genes and Immunity  2011;12(8):667-671.
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.
PMCID: PMC3387803  PMID: 21614020
systemic lupus erythematosus; autoimmunity; major histocompatibility complex; HLA; CIITA; MHC2TA

Results 1-3 (3)