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1.  Evaluation of TRAF6 in a Large Multi-Ancestral Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(6):1960-1969.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with significant immune system aberrations resulting from complex heritable genetics as well as environmental factors. TRAF6 is a candidate gene for SLE, which has a major role in several signaling pathways that are important for immunity and organ development.
Fifteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), across TRAF6 were evaluated in 7,490 SLE and 6,780 control subjects from different ancestries. Population-based case-control association analyses and meta-analyses were performed. P values, false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Evidence of associations in multiple SNPs was detected. The best overall p values were obtained for SNPs rs5030437 and rs4755453 (p=7.85×10−5 and p=4.73×10−5, respectively) without significant heterogeneity among populations (p=0.67 and p=0.50 in Q-statistic). In addition, rs540386 previously reported to be associated with RA was found to be in LD with these two SNPs (r2= 0.95) and demonstrated evidence of association with SLE in the same direction (meta-analysis p=9.15×10−4, OR=0.89, 95%CI=0.83–0.95). Thrombocytopenia improved the overall results in different populations (meta-analysis p=1.99×10−6, OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.45–0.72, for rs5030470). Finally evidence of family based association in 34 African-American pedigrees with the presence of thrombocytopenia were detected in one available SNP rs5030437 with Z score magnitude of 2.28 (p=0.02) under a dominant model.
Our data indicate the presence of association of TRAF6 with SLE in agreement with the previous report of association with RA. These data provide further support for the involvement of TRAF6 in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3380425  PMID: 22231568
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus
2.  Differential colonization with segmented filamentous bacteria and Lactobacillus murinus do not drive divergent development of diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice 
Molecular Metabolism  2013;2(3):171-183.
Alterations in the gut microbiota have been proposed to modify the development and maintenance of obesity and its sequelae. Definition of underlying mechanisms has lagged, although the ability of commensal gut microbes to drive pathways involved in inflammation and metabolism has generated compelling, testable hypotheses. We studied C57BL/6 mice from two vendors that differ in their obesogenic response and in their colonization by specific members of the gut microbiota having well-described roles in regulating gut immune responses. We confirmed the presence of robust differences in weight gain in mice from these different vendors during high fat diet stress. However, neither specific, highly divergent members of the gut microbiota (Lactobacillus murinus, segmented filamentous bacteria) nor the horizontally transmissible gut microbiota were found to be responsible. Constitutive differences in locomotor activity were observed, however. These data underscore the importance of selecting appropriate controls in this widely used model of human obesity.
PMCID: PMC3773832  PMID: 24049732
Microbiome; Obesity; Inflammation; Metabolism; Nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase
3.  Identification of ATPAF1 as a novel candidate gene for asthma in children 
Asthma is a common disease of children with a complex genetic origin. Understanding the genetic basis of asthma susceptibility will allow disease prediction and risk stratification.
We sought to identify asthma susceptibility genes in children.
A nested case-control genetic association study of children of Caucasian European ancestry from a birth cohort was conducted. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, n=116,024) were genotyped in pools of DNA samples from cohort children with physician-diagnosed asthma (n=112) and normal controls (n=165). A genomic region containing the ATPAF1 gene was significantly associated with asthma. Additional SNPs within this region were genotyped in individual samples from the same children and in eight independent study populations consisting of Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, or other ancestries. SNPs were also genotyped or imputed in two consortia control populations. ATPAF1 expression was measured in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics and controls.
Asthma was associated with a cluster of SNPs and SNP haplotypes containing the ATPAF1 gene with two SNPs achieving significance at a genome-wide level (p=2.26×10−5 to 2.2×10−8). Asthma severity was also associated with SNPs and haplotypes in the primary population. SNP and/or gene-level associations were confirmed in the four non-Hispanic populations. Haplotype associations were confirmed in the non-Hispanic populations (p=0.045 to 0.0009). ATPAF1 total RNA expression was significantly (p<0.01) higher in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics than controls.
Genetic variation in the ATPAF1 gene predisposes children of different ancestry to asthma.
PMCID: PMC3185108  PMID: 21696813
asthma; ATPAF1; children; gene; genetic; genome-wide association; purinergic; respiratory; single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP
4.  Obesity and the gut microbiome: Striving for causality 
Molecular Metabolism  2012;1(1-2):21-31.
The gut microbiome has been proposed to play a causal role in obesity. Here, we review the historical context for this hypothesis, highlight recent key findings, and critically discuss issues central to further progress in the field, including the central epistemological problem for the field: how to define causality in the relationship between microbiota and obesity phenotypes. Definition of such will be critical for the field to move forward.
PMCID: PMC3757651  PMID: 24024115
Microbiome; Microbiota; Obesity; Type 2 diabetes; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Innate immunity; Segmented filamentous bacteria
5.  MDM2 Polymorphism Increases Susceptibility to Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia: A Report from the Children’s Oncology Group 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(2):248-253.
The variant polymorphism in the gene MDM2, SNP309, leads to increased level of mdm2 protein and subsequent downregulation of p53 tumor suppressor pathway. Presence of this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) has been associated with earlier tumorigenesis in patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, as well as decreased survival in patients with CLL. In addition, cells homozygous (G/G) for SNP 309 were found to have ten fold increase resistance to topoisomerase II inhibitors in vitro.
We genotyped children (n=575) with de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treated on three Children’s Oncology Group protocols (CCG 2941/2961/AAML 03P1) for the presence of SNP309. Healthy blood donors were genotyped as control population.
The variant G/G genotype was associated with an increased susceptibility to AML (OR 1.5; p=0.049). However, the presence of the variant allele at SNP309 did not modify disease response or toxicity in children treated on CCG protocols 2941/2961.
The variant SNP 309 influences susceptibility to pediatric AML, but does not impact overall response to therapy.
PMCID: PMC2915901  PMID: 20582981
AML; MDM2; SNP 309; Children’s Oncology Group; susceptibility
6.  The Role of Genetic Variation Near Interferon-Kappa in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by increased type I interferons (IFNs) and multiorgan inflammation frequently targeting the skin. IFN-kappa is a type I IFN expressed in skin. A pooled genome-wide scan implicated the IFNK locus in SLE susceptibility. We studied IFNK single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 3982 SLE cases and 4275 controls, composed of European (EA), African-American (AA), and Asian ancestry. rs12553951C was associated with SLE in EA males (odds ratio = 1.93, P = 2.5 × 10−4), but not females. Suggestive associations with skin phenotypes in EA and AA females were found, and these were also sex-specific. IFNK SNPs were associated with increased serum type I IFN in EA and AA SLE patients. Our data suggest a sex-dependent association between IFNK SNPs and SLE and skin phenotypes. The serum IFN association suggests that IFNK variants could influence type I IFN producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells in affected skin.
PMCID: PMC2914299  PMID: 20706608
7.  IFRD1 polymorphisms in cystic fibrosis with potential link to altered neutrophil function 
Nature  2009;458(7241):1039-1042.
Lung disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF), an autosomal recessive disease caused by mutations in CFTR. In CF, chronic infection and dysregulated neutrophilic inflammation lead to progressive airway destruction. The severity of CF lung disease has significant heritability, independent of CFTR genotype1. To identify genetic modifiers, we performed a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) scan in one cohort of CF patients, replicating top candidates in an independent cohort. This approach identified IFRD1 as a modifier of CF lung disease severity. IFRD1 is a histone deacetylase (HDAC)-dependent transcriptional co-regulator expressed during terminal neutrophil differentiation. Neutrophils, but not macrophages, from Ifrd1-deficient mice exhibited blunted effector function, associated with decreased NF-κB p65 transactivation. In vivo, IFRD1 deficiency caused delayed bacterial clearance from the airway, but also less inflammation and disease—a phenotype primarily dependent on hematopoietic cell expression, or lack of expression, of IFRD1. In humans, IFRD1 polymorphisms were significantly associated with variation in neutrophil effector function. These data suggest that IFRD1 modulates the pathogenesis of CF lung disease through regulation of neutrophil effector function.
PMCID: PMC2841516  PMID: 19242412
8.  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
9.  Genetic Susceptibility to Lupus: New Insights from fine mapping and genome-wide association studies 
Nature reviews. Genetics  2009;10(5):285-290.
Genome-wide association studies and fine mapping of candidate regions have rapidly advanced our understanding of the genetic basis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus). More than 20 robust associations have now been identified and confirmed, and have provided insights at the molecular level that refine our understanding of the involvement of processes involved in the host immune response. In addition, genes with as yet unknown roles in SLE pathophysiology have been identified. These findings provide new routes toward improved clinical management of this complex disease.
PMCID: PMC2737697  PMID: 19337289
10.  Osteopontin and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Association: A Probable Gene-Gender Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1757.
Osteopontin (SPP1) is an important bone matrix mediator found to have key roles in inflammation and immunity. SPP1 genetic polymorphisms and increased osteopontin protein levels have been reported to be associated with SLE in small patient collections. The present study evaluates association between SPP1 polymorphisms and SLE in a large cohort of 1141 unrelated SLE patients [707 European-American (EA) and 434 African-American (AA)], and 2009 unrelated controls (1309 EA and 700 AA). Population-based case-control association analyses were performed. To control for potential population stratification, admixture adjusted logistic regression, genomic control (GC), structured association (STRAT), and principal components analysis (PCA) were applied. Combined analysis of 2 ethnic groups, showed the minor allele of 2 SNPs (rs1126616T and rs9138C) significantly associated with higher risk of SLE in males (P = 0.0005, OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.28–2.33), but not in females. Indeed, significant gene-gender interactions in the 2 SNPs, rs1126772 and rs9138, were detected (P = 0.001 and P = 0.0006, respectively). Further, haplotype analysis identified rs1126616T-rs1126772A-rs9138C which demonstrated significant association with SLE in general (P = 0.02, OR = 1.30, 95%CI 1.08–1.57), especially in males (P = 0.0003, OR = 2.42, 95%CI 1.51–3.89). Subgroup analysis with single SNPs and haplotypes also identified a similar pattern of gender-specific association in AA and EA. GC, STRAT, and PCA results within each group showed consistent associations. Our data suggest SPP1 is associated with SLE, and this association is especially stronger in males. To our knowledge, this report serves as the first association of a specific autosomal gene with human male lupus.
PMCID: PMC2258418  PMID: 18335026

Results 1-10 (10)