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1.  Susceptibility to childhood onset rheumatoid arthritis: Investigation of a weighted genetic risk score that integrates cumulative effects of variants at five genetic loci 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(6):1663-1667.
Children with rheumatoid-factor or anti-citrullinated peptide antibody positive juvenile idiopathic arthritis represent the childhood onset of RA (CORA). To test the hypothesis that adult-onset RA-associated variants are also associated with CORA, we investigated RA-associated variants at five loci in our CORA cohort. We also assessed the cumulative association of these variants in the susceptibility to CORA using a weighted genetic risk score (wGRS).
155 children with CORA and 684 healthy controls were genotyped for five variants in PTPN22, TRAF1/C5, STAT4, and TNFAIP3 loci. High-resolution HLA-DRB1 genotypes were available for 149 cases and 373 controls. We tested each locus for association with CORA via logistic regression. We also computed a wGRS for each subject, with weights based on the natural log of the published odds ratios for the alleles investigated, and used logistic regression to test the wGRS for association with CORA.
CORA was associated with TNFAIP3-rs10499194 [OR 0.60 (95%CI 0.44–0.83)], PTPN22-rs2476601 [OR 1.61 (1.11–2.31)], and STAT4-rs7574865 [OR 1.41 (1.06–1.87)] variants. The wGRS was significantly different between cases and controls (P<2×10−16). Individuals in the third to fifth quintiles of wGRS had a significantly increased disease risk compared to the baseline. Higher wGRS associated with increased risk of CORA, especially among males.
TNFAIP3, STAT4 and PTPN22 variants are associated with CORA in a similar magnitude and direction as in RA, suggesting that adult-onset RA and CORA share common genetic risk factors. Utilizing a wGRS, we have demonstrated the cumulative association of RA-associated variants in the susceptibility to CORA.
PMCID: PMC3683854  PMID: 23450725
juvenile idiopathic arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; genetics; association
2.  Genome-wide association analysis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis identifies a new susceptibility locus at chromosomal region 3q13 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2781-2791.
We have conducted a GWAS in a Caucasian cohort of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) patients and have previously published findings limited to autoimmune loci shared with other diseases. The goal of this study was to identify novel JIA predisposing loci using genome-wide approaches.
The Discovery cohort consisted of Caucasian JIA cases (814) and local controls (658) genotyped on the Affymetrix SNP 6.0 Array along with 2400 out-of-study controls. A replication study consisted of 10 SNPs genotyped in 1744 cases and 7010 controls from the US and Europe.
Analysis within the Discovery cohort provided evidence of associations at 3q13 within C3orf1 and near CD80 (rs4688011, OR=1.37, P=1.88×10−6), and 10q21 near the gene JMJD1C [rs6479891, odds ratio (OR) =1.59, P=6.1×10−8; rs12411988, OR=1.57, P=1.16×10−7 and rs10995450, OR = 1.31, P=6.74×10−5]. Meta-analysis continued to provide evidence for association for these 4 SNPs (rs4688011, P=3.6×10−7, rs6479891, P=4.33×10−5; rs12411988, P=2.71×10−5; and rs10995450, 5.39×10−5;). Gene expression data from 68 JIA cases and 23 local controls showed cis eQTL associations for C3orf1 SNP rs4688011 (P=0.024 or P=0.034, depending on probe set) and the JMJD1C SNPs rs6479891 and rs12411988 (P=0.01 and P=0.008, respectively). A variance component liability model estimated that common SNP variation accounts for ~1/3 of JIA susceptibility.
Genetic association results and correlated gene expression findings provide evidence of association at 3q13 and 10q21 for JIA and offer novel genes as plausible candidates in disease pathology.
PMCID: PMC3366043  PMID: 22354554
3.  Meier–Gorlin syndrome genotype–phenotype studies: 35 individuals with pre-replication complex gene mutations and 10 without molecular diagnosis 
Meier–Gorlin syndrome (MGS) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by microtia, patellar aplasia/hypoplasia, and short stature. Recently, mutations in five genes from the pre-replication complex (ORC1, ORC4, ORC6, CDT1, and CDC6), crucial in cell-cycle progression and growth, were identified in individuals with MGS. Here, we report on genotype–phenotype studies in 45 individuals with MGS (27 females, 18 males; age 3 months–47 years). Thirty-five individuals had biallelic mutations in one of the five causative pre-replication genes. No homozygous or compound heterozygous null mutations were detected. In 10 individuals, no definitive molecular diagnosis was made. The triad of microtia, absent/hypoplastic patellae, and short stature was observed in 82% of individuals with MGS. Additional frequent clinical features were mammary hypoplasia (100%) and abnormal genitalia (42% predominantly cryptorchidism and hypoplastic labia minora/majora). One individual with ORC1 mutations only had short stature, emphasizing the highly variable clinical spectrum of MGS. Individuals with ORC1 mutations had significantly shorter stature and smaller head circumferences than individuals from other gene categories. Furthermore, compared with homozygous missense mutations, compound heterozygous mutations appeared to have a more severe effect on phenotype, causing more severe growth retardation in ORC4 and more frequently pulmonary emphysema in CDT1. A lethal phenotype was seen in four individuals with compound heterozygous ORC1 and CDT1 mutations. No other clear genotype–phenotype association was observed. Growth hormone and estrogen treatment may be of some benefit, respectively, to growth retardation and breast hypoplasia, though further studies in this patient group are needed.
PMCID: PMC3355263  PMID: 22333897
Meier–Gorlin syndrome; ear-patella-short stature syndrome; origin recognition complex; pre-replication complex; genotype–phenotype
4.  Hierarchy of risk of childhood onset rheumatoid arthritis conferred by HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding the shared epitope 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(3):925-930.
Associations between shared epitope (SE)-encoding HLA-DRB1 alleles and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are well established but only a limited number of studies have investigated these alleles in childhood onset RA (CORA), defined as rheumatoid factor (RF) and/or anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) positive juvenile idiopathic arthritis. We sought to investigate the largest cohort of CORA for association with SE alleles, and to determine whether there was a hierarchy of risk based on the amino acid sequence of the SE.
High resolution HLA-DRB1 genotypes were obtained for 204 children with CORA and 373 healthy controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI were calculated for different SE-encoding HLA-DRB1 alleles. We also calculated genotypic OR for combinations of SE alleles classified into S2, S3P or L alleles, based on amino acids in positions 70-74 of the DRβ1 chain as proposed by Tezenas Du Montcel et al (2005).
We confirmed associations between HLA-DRB1 SE alleles and CORA (76% of cases versus 46% of controls; OR=3.81 (95%CI 2.4-6.0), p <1×10−7). We also found associations between individual SE alleles (HLA-DRB1*0101, *0401, *0404, *0405, *0408 and *1001) and CORA. Genotype-specific risk estimates suggested a hierarchy of risk, with the highest risk among those heterozygous for S2/S3P (OR=22.3 (9.9-50.5) p <0.0001).
We confirm the association between SE-encoding HLA-DRB1 alleles and susceptibility to CORA. The excess risk conferred by individuals who carry the combination of S2/S3P risk alleles suggests that children with DRβ1 chains containing KRAA and Q/RRRAA are especially prone to RA.
PMCID: PMC3276774  PMID: 21953520
juvenile idiopathic arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; shared epitope; association
5.  Somatic gain-of-function mutations in PIK3CA in patients with macrodactyly 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(3):444-451.
Macrodactyly is a discrete congenital anomaly consisting of enlargement of all tissues localized to the terminal portions of a limb, typically within a ‘nerve territory’. The classic terminology for this condition is ‘lipofibromatous hamartoma of nerve’ or Type I macrodactyly. The peripheral nerve, itself, is enlarged both in circumference and in length. It is not related to neurofibromatosis (NF1), nor is it associated with vascular malformations, such as in the recently reported CLOVES syndrome. The specific nerve pathophysiology in this form of macrodactyly has not been well described and a genetic etiology for this specific form of enlargement is unknown. To identify the genetic cause of macrodactyly, we used whole-exome sequencing to identify somatic mutations present in the affected nerve of a single patient. We confirmed a novel mutation in PIK3CA (R115P) present in the patient's affected nerve tissue but not in blood DNA. Sequencing PIK3CA exons identified gain-of-function mutations (E542K, H1047L or H1047R) in the affected tissue of five additional unrelated patients; mutations were absent in blood DNA available from three patients. Immunocytochemistry confirmed AKT activation in cultured cells from the nerve of a macrodactyly patient. Additionally, we found that the most abnormal structure within the involved nerve in a macrodactylous digit is the perineurium, with additional secondary effects on the axon number and size. Thus, isolated congenital macrodactyly is caused by somatic activation of the PI3K/AKT cell-signaling pathway and is genetically and biochemically related to other overgrowth syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3542862  PMID: 23100325
7.  Genome-wide association studies of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis suggest candidate susceptibility genes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(7):1456-1466.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is an unexplained and common spinal deformity seen in otherwise healthy children. Its pathophysiology is poorly understood despite intensive investigation. Although genetic underpinnings are clear, replicated susceptibility loci that could provide insight into etiology have not been forthcoming. To address these issues, we performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of ∼327 000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 419 AIS families. We found strongest evidence of association with chromosome 3p26.3 SNPs in the proximity of the CHL1 gene (P < 8 × 10−8 for rs1400180). We genotyped additional chromosome 3p26.3 SNPs and tested replication in two follow-up case–control cohorts, obtaining strongest results when all three cohorts were combined (rs10510181 odds ratio = 1.49, 95% confidence interval = 1.29–1.73, P = 2.58 × 10−8), but these were not confirmed in a separate GWAS. CHL1 is of interest, as it encodes an axon guidance protein related to Robo3. Mutations in the Robo3 protein cause horizontal gaze palsy with progressive scoliosis (HGPPS), a rare disease marked by severe scoliosis. Other top associations in our GWAS were with SNPs in the DSCAM gene encoding an axon guidance protein in the same structural class with Chl1 and Robo3. We additionally found AIS associations with loci in CNTNAP2, supporting a previous study linking this gene with AIS. Cntnap2 is also of functional interest, as it interacts directly with L1 and Robo class proteins and participates in axon pathfinding. Our results suggest the relevance of axon guidance pathways in AIS susceptibility, although these findings require further study, particularly given the apparent genetic heterogeneity in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3049353  PMID: 21216876
8.  TDT-HET: A new transmission disequilibrium test that incorporates locus heterogeneity into the analysis of family-based association data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:13.
Locus heterogeneity is one of the most documented phenomena in genetics. To date, relatively little work had been done on the development of methods to address locus heterogeneity in genetic association analysis. Motivated by Zhou and Pan's work, we present a mixture model of linked and unlinked trios and develop a statistical method to estimate the probability that a heterozygous parent transmits the disease allele at a di-allelic locus, and the probability that any trio is in the linked group. The purpose here is the development of a test that extends the classic transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) to one that accounts for locus heterogeneity.
Our simulations suggest that, for sufficiently large sample size (1000 trios) our method has good power to detect association even the proportion of unlinked trios is high (75%). While the median difference (TDT-HET empirical power - TDT empirical power) is approximately 0 for all MOI, there are parameter settings for which the power difference can be substantial. Our multi-locus simulations suggest that our method has good power to detect association as long as the markers are reasonably well-correlated and the genotype relative risk are larger. Results of both single-locus and multi-locus simulations suggest our method maintains the correct type I error rate.
Finally, the TDT-HET statistic shows highly significant p-values for most of the idiopathic scoliosis candidate loci, and for some loci, the estimated proportion of unlinked trios approaches or exceeds 50%, suggesting the presence of locus heterogeneity.
We have developed an extension of the TDT statistic (TDT-HET) that allows for locus heterogeneity among coded trios. Benefits of our method include: estimates of parameters in the presence of heterogeneity, and reasonable power even when the proportion of linked trios is small. Also, we have extended multi-locus methods to TDT-HET and have demonstrated that the empirical power may be high to detect linkage. Last, given that we obtain PPBs, we conjecture that the TDT-HET may be a useful method for correctly identifying linked trios. We anticipate that researchers will find this property increasingly useful as they apply next-generation sequencing data in family based studies.
PMCID: PMC3292499  PMID: 22264315
10.  Mutations in the Pre-Replication Complex cause Meier-Gorlin syndrome 
Nature genetics  2011;43(4):356-359.
Meier-Gorlin syndrome (ear, patella, short stature syndrome) is an autosomal recessive primordial dwarfism syndrome characterised by absent/hypoplastic patellae and markedly small ears1-3. Both pre and post-natal growth are impaired in this disorder and although microcephaly is often evident, intellect is usually normal. We report here that this disorder shows marked locus heterogeneity and we identify mutations in five separate genes: ORC1, ORC4, ORC6, CDT1 and CDC6. All encode components of the pre-replication complex, implicating defects in replication licensing as the cause of a genetic syndrome with distinct developmental abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3068194  PMID: 21358632
11.  Evaluation of GPR50, hMel-1B, and ROR-Alpha Melatonin-Related Receptors and the Etiology of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis 
Journal of pediatric orthopedics  2010;30(6):539-543.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common spinal deformity in children. Studies have shown low melatonin levels resulting from pinealectomy in chickens and mice result in the development scoliosis, while supplementation with melatonin after the pinealectomy prevented it. The mere characterization of low melatonin levels is not sufficient to explain the development of idiopathic scoliosis in primates and humans, but we hypothesize that a mutation in melatonin-related receptors may be involved with the development of scoliosis.
The coding, splice-site, and promoter regions of three melatonin-related receptors (hMel-1B, RORα, and GPR50) were evaluated by DNA sequencing for variants associated with the phenotype of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. An initial screening of 50 scoliosis patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis was compared with 50 controls by DNA sequencing of the three receptors. Additional cases and controls were evaluated when genetic variants were observed (for a total of 885 individuals).
No significant differences were found in the hMel-1B and RORα receptors. We found two cSNPs in GPR50 (rs561077 and rs13440581) in the initial 50 patients. To evaluate the significance of these cSNPs, an additional 356 patients and 429 controls were analyzed. When the combined groups were analyzed, no significant associations were observed.
Despite the observed relationship between melatonin and scoliosis, there is no significant association between mutations found in any known melatonin-related receptors with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The strong evidence of a melatonin-related cause for the development of idiopathic scoliosis still encourages research into undiscovered melatonin-related receptors, melatonin-related hormones, and the catalytic enzymes for the serotonin-melatonin pathway.
Clinical Relevance
This investigation is a genetic testing of the remaining currently known melatonin-related receptors that have not previously been analyzed for association with AIS. Given the support in the literature of a relationship between melatonin and AIS, we have shown no mutations in any of the known melatonin-related receptor in patients with AIS.
PMCID: PMC2928583  PMID: 20733416
adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; melatonin; genetics
12.  Common polymorphisms in human lysyl oxidase genes are not associated with the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis phenotype 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:92.
Although adolescent idiopathic scoliosis affects approximately 3% of adolescents, the genetic contributions have proven difficult to identify. Work in model organisms, including zebrafish, chickens, and mice, has implicated the lysyl oxidase family of enzymes in the development of scoliosis. We hypothesized that common polymorphisms in the five human lysyl oxidase genes (LOX, LOXL1, LOXL2, LOXL3, and LOXL4) may be associated with the phenotype of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
This was a case-control genetic association study. A total of 112 coding and tag SNPs in LOX, LOXL1, LOXL2, LOXL3, and LOXL4 were genotyped in a discovery cohort of 138 cases and 411 controls. Genotypes were tested for association with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis by logistic regression with a two degree of freedom genotypic model and gender as a covariate. Fourteen SNPs with p < 0.1 in the discovery phase were genotyped in an independent replication cohort of 400 cases and 506 controls.
No evidence for significant association was found between coding or tag SNPs in LOX, LOXL1, LOXL2, LOXL3, and LOXL4 and the phenotype of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Despite suggestive evidence in model organisms, common variants and known coding SNPs in the five human lysyl oxidase genes do not confer increased genotypic risk for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The above methodology does not address rare variants or individually private mutations in these genes, and future research may focus on this area.
PMCID: PMC3154146  PMID: 21740577
13.  Clinical, Molecular, and Genetic Characteristics of PAPA Syndrome: A Review 
Current Genomics  2010;11(7):519-527.
PAPA syndrome (Pyogenic Arthritis, Pyoderma gangrenosum, and Acne) is an autosomal dominant, hereditary auto-inflammatory disease arising from mutations in the PSTPIP1/CD2BP1 gene on chromosome 15q. These mutations produce a hyper-phosphorylated PSTPIP1 protein and alter its participation in activation of the “inflammasome” involved in interleukin-1 (IL-1β) production. Overproduction of IL-1β is a clear molecular feature of PAPA syndrome. Ongoing research is implicating other biochemical pathways that may be relevant to the distinct pyogenic inflammation of the skin and joints characteristic of this disease. This review summarizes the recent and rapidly accumulating knowledge on these molecular aspects of PAPA syndrome and related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3048314  PMID: 21532836
Auto-inflammatory disease; PAPA syndrome; PSTPIP1; CD2BP1; PTP-PEST; pyrin; neutrophils; microarray transcript profiling; anakinra; IL-1β.
14.  Altered Transmission of HOX and Apoptotic SNPs Identify a Potential Common Pathway for Clubfoot 
Clubfoot is a common birth defect that affects 135,000 newborns each year worldwide. It is characterized by equinus deformity of one or both feet and hypoplastic calf muscles. Despite numerous study approaches, the cause(s) remains poorly understood although a multifactorial etiology is generally accepted. We considered the HOXA and HOXD gene clusters and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) as candidate genes because of their important roles in limb and muscle morphogenesis. Twenty SNPs from the HOXA and HOXD gene clusters and 12 SNPs in IGFBP3 were genotyped in a sample composed of nonHispanic white and Hispanic multiplex and simplex families (discovery samples) and a second sample of nonHispanic white simplex trios (validation sample). Four SNPs (rs6668, rs2428431, rs3801776 and rs3779456) in the HOXA cluster demonstrated altered transmission in the discovery sample, but only rs3801776, located in the HOXA basal promoter region, showed altered transmission in both the discovery and validation samples (p=0.004 and p=0.028). Interestingly, HOXA9 is expressed in muscle during development. A SNP in IGFBP3, rs13223993, also showed altered transmission (p=0.003) in the discovery sample. Gene-gene interactions were identified between variants in HOXA, HOXD and IGFBP3 and with previously associated SNPs in mitochondrial-mediated apoptotic genes. The most significant interactions were found between CASP3 SNPS and variants in HOXA, HOXD and IGFBP3. These results suggest a biologic model for clubfoot in which perturbation of HOX and apoptotic genes together affect muscle and limb development, which may cause the downstream failure of limb rotation into a plantar grade position.
PMCID: PMC2795347  PMID: 19938081
association study; genotyping; complex disease; clubfoot; HOXA; IGFBP3
16.  Genomewide Scan Reveals Association of Psoriasis with IL-23 and NF-κB Pathways 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):199-204.
Psoriasis is a common immune mediated disorder that affects the skin, nails, and joints. To identify psoriasis susceptibility loci, we genotyped 438,670 SNPs in 1,409 European ancestry psoriasis cases and 1,436 controls. Twenty-one promising SNPs were followed-up in 5,048 psoriasis cases and 5,041 controls. Our results provide strong support for the association of at least seven genetic loci and psoriasis (each with p < 5×10−8 overall). Loci with confirmed association encode HLA-C, three genes involved in IL-23 signaling (IL23A, IL23R, IL12B), two genes that act downstream of TNF-α and regulate NF-κB signaling (TNIP1, TNFAIP3), and two genes involved in the modulation of Th2 immune responses (IL4, IL13). Although the proteins encoded in these loci are known to interact biologically, we found no evidence for epistasis between associated SNPs. Our results expand the catalog of genetic loci implicated in psoriasis susceptibility and suggest priority targets for study in other auto-immune disorders.
PMCID: PMC2745122  PMID: 19169254
17.  Understanding Genetic Factors in Idiopathic Scoliosis, a Complex Disease of Childhood 
Current Genomics  2008;9(1):51-59.
Idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common pediatric spinal deformity, affecting ~3% of children worldwide. AIS significantly impacts national health in the U. S. alone, creating disfigurement and disability for over 10% of patients and costing billions of dollars annually for treatment. Despite many investigations, the underlying etiology of IS is poorly understood. Twin studies and observations of familial aggregation reveal significant genetic contributions to IS. Several features of the disease including potentially strong genetic effects, the early onset of disease, and standardized diagnostic criteria make IS ideal for genomic approaches to finding risk factors. Here we comprehensively review the genetic contributions to IS and compare those findings to other well-described complex diseases such as Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. We also summarize candidate gene studies and evaluate them in the context of possible disease aetiology. Finally, we provide study designs that apply emerging genomic technologies to this disease. Existing genetic data provide testable hypotheses regarding IS etiology, and also provide proof of principle for applying high-density genome-wide methods to finding susceptibility genes and disease modifiers.
PMCID: PMC2674301  PMID: 19424484
Scoliosis; genetics; inheritance; genome-wide association.
18.  A Genome-Wide Association Study of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Identifies New Disease Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(4):e1000041.
A genome-wide association study was performed to identify genetic factors involved in susceptibility to psoriasis (PS) and psoriatic arthritis (PSA), inflammatory diseases of the skin and joints in humans. 223 PS cases (including 91 with PSA) were genotyped with 311,398 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and results were compared with those from 519 Northern European controls. Replications were performed with an independent cohort of 577 PS cases and 737 controls from the U.S., and 576 PSA patients and 480 controls from the U.K.. Strongest associations were with the class I region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The most highly associated SNP was rs10484554, which lies 34.7 kb upstream from HLA-C (P = 7.8×10−11, GWA scan; P = 1.8×10−30, replication; P = 1.8×10−39, combined; U.K. PSA: P = 6.9×10−11). However, rs2395029 encoding the G2V polymorphism within the class I gene HCP5 (combined P = 2.13×10−26 in U.S. cases) yielded the highest ORs with both PS and PSA (4.1 and 3.2 respectively). This variant is associated with low viral set point following HIV infection and its effect is independent of rs10484554. We replicated the previously reported association with interleukin 23 receptor and interleukin 12B (IL12B) polymorphisms in PS and PSA cohorts (IL23R: rs11209026, U.S. PS, P = 1.4×10−4; U.K. PSA: P = 8.0×10−4; IL12B:rs6887695, U.S. PS, P = 5×10−5 and U.K. PSA, P = 1.3×10−3) and detected an independent association in the IL23R region with a SNP 4 kb upstream from IL12RB2 (P = 0.001). Novel associations replicated in the U.S. PS cohort included the region harboring lipoma HMGIC fusion partner (LHFP) and conserved oligomeric golgi complex component 6 (COG6) genes on chromosome 13q13 (combined P = 2×10−6 for rs7993214; OR = 0.71), the late cornified envelope gene cluster (LCE) from the Epidermal Differentiation Complex (PSORS4) (combined P = 6.2×10−5 for rs6701216; OR 1.45) and a region of LD at 15q21 (combined P = 2.9×10−5 for rs3803369; OR = 1.43). This region is of interest because it harbors ubiquitin-specific protease-8 whose processed pseudogene lies upstream from HLA-C. This region of 15q21 also harbors the gene for SPPL2A (signal peptide peptidase like 2a) which activates tumor necrosis factor alpha by cleavage, triggering the expression of IL12 in human dendritic cells. We also identified a novel PSA (and potentially PS) locus on chromosome 4q27. This region harbors the interleukin 2 (IL2) and interleukin 21 (IL21) genes and was recently shown to be associated with four autoimmune diseases (Celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, Grave's disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis).
Author Summary
Psoriasis (PS) and psoriatic arthritis (PSA) are common inflammatory diseases of humans affecting the skin and joints. Approximately 2% of Europeans are affected with PS, and ∼10–30% of patients develop PSA. Genetic variation in the MHC (multiple histocompatibility locus antigen cluster) increases risk of developing PS. However, only ∼10% of individuals with this risk factor develop PS, indicating that other genetic effects and environmental triggers are important. Recent approaches using a case/control approach and genome wide association studies with DNA markers known as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) have been fruitful in identifying genetic factors for common diseases. This study describes the first large scale genome wide scan for additional PS and PSA susceptibility genes using 233 cases and 519 controls. It revealed that the MHC is truly the most important risk factor for PS and that it plays a very major role in PSA, confirmed recently identified associations with interleukin 23 receptor and interleukin 12B in both PS and PSA, and identified new associations. These include a region on chromosome 4q27 that contains genes for interleukin 2 and interleukin 21 that has been recently implicated in other autoimmune diseases, and seven additional regions that include chromosome 13q13 and 15q21.
PMCID: PMC2274885  PMID: 18369459
19.  Blood leukocyte microarrays to diagnose systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis and follow the response to IL-1 blockade 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2007;204(9):2131-2144.
Systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SoJIA) represents up to 20% of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. We recently reported that interleukin (IL) 1 is an important mediator of this disease and that IL-1 blockade induces clinical remission. However, lack of specificity of the initial systemic manifestations leads to delays in diagnosis and initiation of therapy. To develop a specific diagnostic test, we analyzed leukocyte gene expression profiles of 44 pediatric SoJIA patients, 94 pediatric patients with acute viral and bacterial infections, 38 pediatric patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 6 patients with PAPA syndrome, and 39 healthy children. Statistical group comparison and class prediction identified genes differentially expressed in SoJIA patients compared with healthy children. These genes, however, were also changed in patients with acute infections and SLE. An analysis of significance across all diagnostic groups identified 88 SoJIA-specific genes, 12 of which accurately classified an independent set of SoJIA patients with systemic disease. Transcripts that changed significantly in patients undergoing IL-1 blockade were also identified. Thus, leukocyte transcriptional signatures can be used to distinguish SoJIA from other febrile illnesses and to assess response to therapy. Availability of early diagnostic markers may allow prompt initiation of therapy and prevention of disabilities.
PMCID: PMC2118700  PMID: 17724127
20.  Extreme Growth Failure is a Common Presentation of Ligase IV Deficiency 
Human Mutation  2013;35(1):76-85.
Ligase IV syndrome is a rare differential diagnosis for Nijmegen breakage syndrome owing to a shared predisposition to lympho-reticular malignancies, significant microcephaly, and radiation hypersensitivity. Only 16 cases with mutations in LIG4 have been described to date with phenotypes varying from malignancy in developmentally normal individuals, to severe combined immunodeficiency and early mortality. Here, we report the identification of biallelic truncating LIG4 mutations in 11 patients with microcephalic primordial dwarfism presenting with restricted prenatal growth and extreme postnatal global growth failure (average OFC −10.1 s.d., height −5.1 s.d.). Subsequently, most patients developed thrombocytopenia and leucopenia later in childhood and many were found to have previously unrecognized immunodeficiency following molecular diagnosis. None have yet developed malignancy, though all patients tested had cellular radiosensitivity. A genotype–phenotype correlation was also noted with position of truncating mutations corresponding to disease severity. This work extends the phenotypic spectrum associated with LIG4 mutations, establishing that extreme growth retardation with microcephaly is a common presentation of bilallelic truncating mutations. Such growth failure is therefore sufficient to consider a diagnosis of LIG4 deficiency and early recognition of such cases is important as bone marrow failure, immunodeficiency, and sometimes malignancy are long term sequelae of this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3995017  PMID: 24123394
ligase IV; LIG4; nonhomologous end joining; radiosensitivity; cytopenia; malignancy; DNA repair; immunodeficiency
21.  ptk7 mutant zebrafish models of congenital and idiopathic scoliosis implicate dysregulated Wnt signalling in disease 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4777.
Scoliosis is a complex genetic disorder of the musculoskeletal system, characterized by three-dimensional rotation of the spine. Curvatures caused by malformed vertebrae (congenital scoliosis (CS)) are apparent at birth. Spinal curvatures with no underlying vertebral abnormality (idiopathic scoliosis (IS)) most commonly manifest during adolescence. The genetic and biological mechanisms responsible for IS remain poorly understood due largely to limited experimental models. Here we describe zygotic ptk7 (Zptk7) mutant zebrafish, deficient in a critical regulator of Wnt signalling, as the first genetically defined developmental model of IS. We identify a novel sequence variant within a single IS patient that disrupts PTK7 function, consistent with a role for dysregulated Wnt activity in disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that embryonic loss-of-gene function in maternal-zygotic ptk7 mutants (MZptk7) leads to vertebral anomalies associated with CS. Our data suggest novel molecular origins of, and genetic links between, congenital and idiopathic forms of disease.
Scoliosis is a complex genetic disorder characterized by spinal curvature. Here, the authors present experimental zebrafish models of idiopathic and congenital scoliosis and suggest a role for dysregulated Wnt activity in scoliosis aetiology.
PMCID: PMC4155517  PMID: 25182715

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