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1.  A method to decipher pleiotropy by detecting underlying heterogeneity driven by hidden subgroups applied to autoimmune and neuropsychiatric diseases 
Nature genetics  2016;48(7):803-810.
There is growing evidence of shared risk alleles between complex traits (pleiotropy), including autoimmune and neuropsychiatric diseases. This might be due to sharing between all individuals (whole-group pleiotropy), or a subset of individuals within a genetically heterogeneous cohort (subgroup heterogeneity). BUHMBOX is a well-powered statistic distinguishing between these two situations using genotype data. We observed a shared genetic basis between 11 autoimmune diseases and type 1 diabetes (T1D, p<10−4), and 11 autoimmune diseases and rheumatoid arthritis (RA, p<10−3). This sharing was not explained by subgroup heterogeneity (corrected pBUHMBOX>0.2, 6,670 T1D cases and 7,279 RA cases). Genetic sharing between seronegative and seropostive RA (p<10−9) had significant evidence of subgroup heterogeneity, suggesting a subgroup of seropositive-like cases within seronegative cases (pBUHMBOX=0.008, 2,406 seronegative RA cases). We also observed a shared genetic basis between major depressive disorder (MDD) and schizophrenia (p<10−4) that was not explained by subgroup heterogeneity (pBUHMBOX=0.28 in 9,238 MDD cases).
PMCID: PMC4925284  PMID: 27182969
2.  Evaluation of VDR gene polymorphisms in Trypanosoma cruzi infection and chronic Chagasic cardiomyopathy 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:31263.
Vitamin D is an important modulator of the immune response. It acts over several immune cell types where the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) is expressed. Due to the high relevance of this signaling pathway, several studies have investigated the possible influence of genes involved in the metabolism of Vitamin D and its receptor in different human diseases. Here, we analyzed whether four single-nucleotide polymorphisms of the VDR gene (rs731236, rs7975232, rs1544410 and rs2228570) are involved in the susceptibility to infection by Trypanosoma cruzi and/or to chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC) in a Colombian endemic population for this parasite. Our results showed that the rs2228570*A allele is associated with CCC development (P = 4.46E−03, OR = 1.51). In summary, the data presented in this report suggest that variation within the VDR gene may affect the immune response against T. cruzi, increasing the probability of cardiac complications in infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4977507  PMID: 27502545
4.  Investigating the Causal Relationship of C-Reactive Protein with 32 Complex Somatic and Psychiatric Outcomes: A Large-Scale Cross-Consortium Mendelian Randomization Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(6):e1001976.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is associated with immune, cardiometabolic, and psychiatric traits and diseases. Yet it is inconclusive whether these associations are causal.
Methods and Findings
We performed Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses using two genetic risk scores (GRSs) as instrumental variables (IVs). The first GRS consisted of four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CRP gene (GRSCRP), and the second consisted of 18 SNPs that were significantly associated with CRP levels in the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date (GRSGWAS). To optimize power, we used summary statistics from GWAS consortia and tested the association of these two GRSs with 32 complex somatic and psychiatric outcomes, with up to 123,865 participants per outcome from populations of European ancestry. We performed heterogeneity tests to disentangle the pleiotropic effect of IVs. A Bonferroni-corrected significance level of less than 0.0016 was considered statistically significant. An observed p-value equal to or less than 0.05 was considered nominally significant evidence for a potential causal association, yet to be confirmed.
The strengths (F-statistics) of the IVs were 31.92–3,761.29 and 82.32–9,403.21 for GRSCRP and GRSGWAS, respectively. CRP GRSGWAS showed a statistically significant protective relationship of a 10% genetically elevated CRP level with the risk of schizophrenia (odds ratio [OR] 0.86 [95% CI 0.79–0.94]; p < 0.001). We validated this finding with individual-level genotype data from the schizophrenia GWAS (OR 0.96 [95% CI 0.94–0.98]; p < 1.72 × 10−6). Further, we found that a standardized CRP polygenic risk score (CRPPRS) at p-value thresholds of 1 × 10−4, 0.001, 0.01, 0.05, and 0.1 using individual-level data also showed a protective effect (OR < 1.00) against schizophrenia; the first CRPPRS (built of SNPs with p < 1 × 10−4) showed a statistically significant (p < 2.45 × 10−4) protective effect with an OR of 0.97 (95% CI 0.95–0.99). The CRP GRSGWAS showed that a 10% increase in genetically determined CRP level was significantly associated with coronary artery disease (OR 0.88 [95% CI 0.84–0.94]; p < 2.4 × 10−5) and was nominally associated with the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (OR 0.85 [95% CI 0.74–0.98]; p < 0.03), Crohn disease (OR 0.81 [95% CI 0.70–0.94]; p < 0.005), psoriatic arthritis (OR 1.36 [95% CI 1.00–1.84]; p < 0.049), knee osteoarthritis (OR 1.17 [95% CI 1.01–1.36]; p < 0.04), and bipolar disorder (OR 1.21 [95% CI 1.05–1.40]; p < 0.007) and with an increase of 0.72 (95% CI 0.11–1.34; p < 0.02) mm Hg in systolic blood pressure, 0.45 (95% CI 0.06–0.84; p < 0.02) mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure, 0.01 ml/min/1.73 m2 (95% CI 0.003–0.02; p < 0.005) in estimated glomerular filtration rate from serum creatinine, 0.01 g/dl (95% CI 0.0004–0.02; p < 0.04) in serum albumin level, and 0.03 g/dl (95% CI 0.008–0.05; p < 0.009) in serum protein level. However, after adjustment for heterogeneity, neither GRS showed a significant effect of CRP level (at p < 0.0016) on any of these outcomes, including coronary artery disease, nor on the other 20 complex outcomes studied. Our study has two potential limitations: the limited variance explained by our genetic instruments modeling CRP levels in blood and the unobserved bias introduced by the use of summary statistics in our MR analyses.
Genetically elevated CRP levels showed a significant potentially protective causal relationship with risk of schizophrenia. We observed nominal evidence at an observed p < 0.05 using either GRSCRP or GRSGWAS—with persistence after correction for heterogeneity—for a causal relationship of elevated CRP levels with psoriatic osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, knee osteoarthritis, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, serum albumin, and bipolar disorder. These associations remain yet to be confirmed. We cannot verify any causal effect of CRP level on any of the other common somatic and neuropsychiatric outcomes investigated in the present study. This implies that interventions that lower CRP level are unlikely to result in decreased risk for the majority of common complex outcomes.
Using genetic instruments, Behrooz Z. Alizadeh and colleagues examine the hypothesis that increased CRP levels play a causal role in common somatic and psychiatric conditions.
Editors' Summary
Inflammation is an important part of the human immune response, the network of cells and molecules that protects the body from attack by pathogens (infectious organisms) and from harmful substances and foreign particles (for example, splinters). When human cells are attacked by pathogens or injured by trauma or chemicals, molecules called inflammatory mediators induce fluid leakage from the blood vessels into the damaged tissue and attract “phagocytes” (a type of immune cell) to the site of infection or injury to “eat” the germs and dead or damaged cells. The end result is inflammation, which is characterized by swelling, redness, heat, and pain. The inflammatory response, although unpleasant, limits the damage caused by foreign invaders or chemicals by preventing further contact with body tissues. Sometimes, however, inflammation can be harmful. Persistent dysregulation of the inflammatory response is implicated in numerous somatic disorders (diseases that affect the body, such as cardiovascular disease) and neuropsychiatric disorders (mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system, such as schizophrenia).
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies suggest that increased blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, an inflammatory protein) are associated with certain somatic and neuropsychiatric disorders. But observational studies cannot prove that changes in CRP levels actually cause any of these disorders. It could be that the individuals who develop a specific disease and who have a high CRP level also share another unknown characteristic that is actually responsible for disease development (confounding). Alternatively, it could be that the disease itself increases CRP levels (reverse causation). It is important to know whether CRP is causally involved in the development of specific diseases because it might then be possible to prevent or treat these diseases using drugs that control CRP levels. Here, the researchers undertake a Mendelian randomization study to determine whether CRP has a causal relationship with 32 common complex somatic and neuropsychiatric outcomes. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. So, if CRP levels actually cause a specific somatic or neuropsychiatric disease, genetic variants that affect CRP levels should be associated with an altered risk for that disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data collected by several consortia involved in large genome-wide association studies (studies that ask whether specific genetic changes across the whole human genome, or blueprint, are associated with specific diseases) to look for associations between 32 somatic and neuropsychiatric outcomes and two genetic risk scores (GRSs) for CRP level. GRSCRP consisted of four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; a type of genetic variant) in the gene encoding CRP; GRSGWAS consisted of 18 SNPs that were associated with CRP level in a genome-wide association study. The researchers report that a genetically increased CRP level was significantly associated with a reduced risk of schizophrenia (a significant association is one unlikely to have arisen by chance). In addition, they found a nominally significant association (an association that needs to be confirmed) between genetically increased CRP levels and an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis, raised diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and bipolar disorder. Notably, there was no evidence for an effect of genetically increased CRP levels on any of the other 27 outcomes studied.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that genetically raised levels of CRP are causally associated with protection against schizophrenia, an unexpected finding given other recent studies that suggest that raised CRP levels and brain inflammation predispose individuals to schizophrenia. The findings also provide preliminary evidence that genetically raised levels of CRP may be causally associated with an increased risk of raised blood pressure, knee arthritis, and bipolar disorder. The lack of any association between genetically raised levels of CRP and the other outcomes studied suggests, however, that many previously identified disease-associated rises in CRP levels might be a response to the disease process rather than a cause of these diseases. Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of these findings depends on the validity of several assumptions made by the researchers and on the ability of the GRSs used in the study to explain variations in CRP level. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that interventions designed to lower CRP level are unlikely to decrease the risk of people developing the majority of common complex somatic and neuropsychiatric outcomes.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
Wikipedia has pages on inflammation, C-reactive protein, and Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on C-reactive protein (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides a short article on inflammation and heart disease
A UK National Health Service “Behind the Headlines” article explains a recent study that found an association between immune activity in the brain and schizophrenia
PMCID: PMC4915710  PMID: 27327646
5.  Impact of single-site axonal GABAergic synaptic events on cerebellar interneuron activity 
The Journal of General Physiology  2015;146(6):477-493.
Presynaptic GABAA receptors have a greater influence than previously known.
Axonal ionotropic receptors are present in a variety of neuronal types, and their function has largely been associated with the modulation of axonal activity and synaptic release. It is usually assumed that activation of axonal GABAARs comes from spillover, but in cerebellar molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) the GABA source is different: in these cells, GABA release activates presynaptic GABAA autoreceptors (autoRs) together with postsynaptic targets, producing an autoR-mediated synaptic event. The frequency of presynaptic, autoR-mediated miniature currents is twice that of their somatodendritic counterparts, suggesting that autoR-mediated responses have an important effect on interneuron activity. Here, we used local Ca2+ photolysis in MLI axons of juvenile rats to evoke GABA release from individual varicosities to study the activation of axonal autoRs in single release sites. Our data show that single-site autoR conductances are similar to postsynaptic dendritic conductances. In conditions of high [Cl−]i, autoR-mediated conductances range from 1 to 5 nS; this corresponds to ∼30–150 GABAA channels per presynaptic varicosity, a value close to the number of channels in postsynaptic densities. Voltage responses produced by the activation of autoRs in single varicosities are amplified by a Nav-dependent mechanism and propagate along the axon with a length constant of 91 µm. Immunolabeling determination of synapse location shows that on average, one third of the synapses produce autoR-mediated signals that are large enough to reach the axon initial segment. Finally, we show that single-site activation of presynaptic GABAA autoRs leads to an increase in MLI excitability and thus conveys a strong feedback signal that contributes to spiking activity.
PMCID: PMC4664828  PMID: 26621773
6.  IL18 Gene Variants Influence the Susceptibility to Chagas Disease 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2016;10(3):e0004583.
Chagas disease is a parasitic disorder caused by the infection with the flagellated protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. According to the World Health Organization, more than six million people are currently infected in endemic regions. Genetic factors have been proposed to influence predisposition to infection and development of severe clinical phenotypes like chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC). Interleukin 18 (IL18) encodes a proinflammatory cytokine that has been proposed to be involved in controlling T. cruzi infection. In this study, we analyzed the possible role of six IL18 gene variants (rs5744258, rs360722, rs2043055, rs187238, rs1946518 and rs360719), which cover most of the variation within the locus, in the susceptibility to infection by T. cruzi and/or CCC. In total, 1,171 individuals from a Colombian region endemic for Chagas disease, classified as seronegative (n = 595), seropositive asymptomatic (n = 175) and CCC (n = 401), were genotyped using TaqMan probes. Significant associations with T. cruzi infection were observed when comparing seronegative and seropositive individuals for rs187238 (P = 2.18E-03, OR = 0.77), rs360719 (P = 1.49E-03, OR = 0.76), rs2043055 (P = 2.52E-03, OR = 1.29), and rs1946518 (P = 0.0162, OR = 1.22). However, dependence analyses suggested that the association was mainly driven by the polymorphism rs360719. This variant is located within the promoter region of the IL18 gene, and it has been described that it creates a binding site for the transcription factor OCT-1 affecting IL-18 expression levels. In addition, no evidence of association was observed between any of the analyzed IL18 gene polymorphisms and the development of CCC. In summary, our data suggest that genetic variation within the promoter region of IL18 is directly involved in the susceptibility to infection by T. cruzi, which provides novel insight into disease pathophysiology and adds new perspectives to achieve a more effective disease control.
Author Summary
Chagas disease is a parasitic disorder caused by the infection with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. In Latin America, this disease represents a major public health concern, as almost 6 million people are currently infected. During the last years, great efforts have been made in health policy to control the disease; however, there is still a long way ahead to achieve this challenging goal. Most affected people remains asymptomatic after infection for the rest of their lives, but around one third of infected people may develop cardiomyopathy, a condition that reduces dramatically the quality of life and life expectancy in Chagas patients. The causes of the marked differential disease outcomes are currently unknown, but it is believed that a genetic predisposition could play a relevant role in the host. We investigated in an endemic region of Colombia whether the IL18 gene, which is involved in the immune response to intracellular pathogens like T. cruzi, is related to a higher susceptibility to infection or disease severity. Our results suggest that IL18 is a relevant gene in Chagas disease, and could represent a valuable insight that may help to better understand the disease pathogenesis and the development of more efficient therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC4814063  PMID: 27027876
7.  Emerging Diluted Ferromagnetism in High‐T c Superconductors Driven by Point Defect Clusters 
Advanced Science  2016;3(6):1500295.
Defects in ceramic materials are generally seen as detrimental to their functionality and applicability. Yet, in some complex oxides, defects present an opportunity to enhance some of their properties or even lead to the discovery of exciting physics, particularly in the presence of strong correlations. A paradigmatic case is the high‐temperature superconductor YBa2Cu3O7‐δ (Y123), in which nanoscale defects play an important role as they can immobilize quantized magnetic flux vortices. Here previously unforeseen point defects buried in Y123 thin films that lead to the formation of ferromagnetic clusters embedded within the superconductor are unveiled. Aberration‐corrected scanning transmission microscopy has been used for exploring, on a single unit‐cell level, the structure and chemistry resulting from these complex point defects, along with density functional theory calculations, for providing new insights about their nature including an unexpected defect‐driven ferromagnetism, and X‐ray magnetic circular dichroism for bearing evidence of Cu magnetic moments that align ferromagnetically even below the superconducting critical temperature to form a dilute system of magnetic clusters associated with the point defects.
PMCID: PMC5069566  PMID: 27812469
magnetism; nanostructures; STEM‐EELS; superconductivity; XMCD
8.  Widespread non-additive and interaction effects within HLA loci modulate the risk of autoimmune diseases 
Nature genetics  2015;47(9):1085-1090.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes confer strong risk for autoimmune diseases on a log-additive scale. Here we speculated that differences in autoantigen binding repertoires between a heterozygote’s two expressed HLA variants may result in additional non-additive risk effects. We tested non-additive disease contributions of classical HLA alleles in patients and matched controls for five common autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis (RA, Ncases=5,337), type 1 diabetes (T1D, Ncases=5,567), psoriasis vulgaris (Ncases=3,089), idiopathic achalasia (Ncases=727), and celiac disease (Ncases=11,115). In four out of five diseases, we observed highly significant non-additive dominance effects (RA: P=2.5×1012; T1D: P=2.4×10−10; psoriasis: P=5.9×10−6; celiac disease: P=1.2×10−87). In three of these diseases, the dominance effects were explained by interactions between specific classical HLA alleles (RA: P=1.8×10−3; T1D: P=8.6×1027; celiac disease: P=6.0×10−100). These interactions generally increased disease risk and explained moderate but significant fractions of phenotypic variance (RA: 1.4%, T1D: 4.0%, and celiac disease: 4.1%, beyond a simple additive model).
PMCID: PMC4552599  PMID: 26258845
Autoimmunity; complex diseases; MHC; HLA; genetic architecture; non-additive effects; interactions
9.  The IRF5–TNPO3 association with systemic lupus erythematosus has two components that other autoimmune disorders variably share 
Kottyan, Leah C. | Zoller, Erin E. | Bene, Jessica | Lu, Xiaoming | Kelly, Jennifer A. | Rupert, Andrew M. | Lessard, Christopher J. | Vaughn, Samuel E. | Marion, Miranda | Weirauch, Matthew T. | Namjou, Bahram | Adler, Adam | Rasmussen, Astrid | Glenn, Stuart | Montgomery, Courtney G. | Hirschfield, Gideon M. | Xie, Gang | Coltescu, Catalina | Amos, Chris | Li, He | Ice, John A. | Nath, Swapan K. | Mariette, Xavier | Bowman, Simon | Rischmueller, Maureen | Lester, Sue | Brun, Johan G. | Gøransson, Lasse G. | Harboe, Erna | Omdal, Roald | Cunninghame-Graham, Deborah S. | Vyse, Tim | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Brennan, Michael T. | Lessard, James A. | Wahren-Herlenius, Marie | Kvarnström, Marika | Illei, Gabor G. | Witte, Torsten | Jonsson, Roland | Eriksson, Per | Nordmark, Gunnel | Ng, Wan-Fai | Anaya, Juan-Manuel | Rhodus, Nelson L. | Segal, Barbara M. | Merrill, Joan T. | James, Judith A. | Guthridge, Joel M. | Hal Scofield, R. | Alarcon-Riquelme, Marta | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Boackle, Susan A. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Gilkeson, Gary | Kamen, Diane L. | Jacob, Chaim O. | Kimberly, Robert | Brown, Elizabeth | Edberg, Jeffrey | Alarcón, Graciela S. | Reveille, John D. | Vilá, Luis M. | Petri, Michelle | Ramsey-Goldman, Rosalind | Freedman, Barry I. | Niewold, Timothy | Stevens, Anne M. | Tsao, Betty P. | Ying, Jun | Mayes, Maureen D. | Gorlova, Olga Y. | Wakeland, Ward | Radstake, Timothy | Martin, Ezequiel | Martin, Javier | Siminovitch, Katherine | Moser Sivils, Kathy L. | Gaffney, Patrick M. | Langefeld, Carl D. | Harley, John B. | Kaufman, Kenneth M.
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(2):582-596.
Exploiting genotyping, DNA sequencing, imputation and trans-ancestral mapping, we used Bayesian and frequentist approaches to model the IRF5–TNPO3 locus association, now implicated in two immunotherapies and seven autoimmune diseases. Specifically, in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we resolved separate associations in the IRF5 promoter (all ancestries) and with an extended European haplotype. We captured 3230 IRF5–TNPO3 high-quality, common variants across 5 ethnicities in 8395 SLE cases and 7367 controls. The genetic effect from the IRF5 promoter can be explained by any one of four variants in 5.7 kb (P-valuemeta = 6 × 10−49; OR = 1.38–1.97). The second genetic effect spanned an 85.5-kb, 24-variant haplotype that included the genes IRF5 and TNPO3 (P-valuesEU = 10−27–10−32, OR = 1.7–1.81). Many variants at the IRF5 locus with previously assigned biological function are not members of either final credible set of potential causal variants identified herein. In addition to the known biologically functional variants, we demonstrated that the risk allele of rs4728142, a variant in the promoter among the lowest frequentist probability and highest Bayesian posterior probability, was correlated with IRF5 expression and differentially binds the transcription factor ZBTB3. Our analytical strategy provides a novel framework for future studies aimed at dissecting etiological genetic effects. Finally, both SLE elements of the statistical model appear to operate in Sjögren's syndrome and systemic sclerosis whereas only the IRF5–TNPO3 gene-spanning haplotype is associated with primary biliary cirrhosis, demonstrating the nuance of similarity and difference in autoimmune disease risk mechanisms at IRF5–TNPO3.
PMCID: PMC4275071  PMID: 25205108
11.  Twenty-Eight Years of Poliovirus Replication in an Immunodeficient Individual: Impact on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(8):e1005114.
There are currently huge efforts by the World Health Organization and partners to complete global polio eradication. With the significant decline in poliomyelitis cases due to wild poliovirus in recent years, rare cases related to the use of live-attenuated oral polio vaccine assume greater importance. Poliovirus strains in the oral vaccine are known to quickly revert to neurovirulent phenotype following replication in humans after immunisation. These strains can transmit from person to person leading to poliomyelitis outbreaks and can replicate for long periods of time in immunodeficient individuals leading to paralysis or chronic infection, with currently no effective treatment to stop excretion from these patients. Here, we describe an individual who has been excreting type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus for twenty eight years as estimated by the molecular clock established with VP1 capsid gene nucleotide sequences of serial isolates. This represents by far the longest period of excretion described from such a patient who is the only identified individual known to be excreting highly evolved vaccine-derived poliovirus at present. Using a range of in vivo and in vitro assays we show that the viruses are very virulent, antigenically drifted and excreted at high titre suggesting that such chronic excreters pose an obvious risk to the eradication programme. Our results in virus neutralization assays with human sera and immunisation-challenge experiments using transgenic mice expressing the human poliovirus receptor indicate that while maintaining high immunisation coverage will likely confer protection against paralytic disease caused by these viruses, significant changes in immunisation strategies might be required to effectively stop their occurrence and potential widespread transmission. Eventually, new stable live-attenuated polio vaccines with no risk of reversion might be required to respond to any poliovirus isolation in the post-eradication era.
Author Summary
The global polio eradication initiative is the most ambitious and complex public health programme directed at a single disease in history with a projected cost of $16.5 billion. Of the three serotypes types 2 and 3 appear to have been eradicated in the wild and type 1 is mostly confined to a region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is a real probability of total eradication in the near future. The main vaccine used is a live attenuated virus, and our paper concerns one of the most intractable significant implications that this has for the polio endgame. We describe virological studies of a patient deficient in humoral immunity who has been excreting type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus for 28 years. Our results show that the viruses are excreted at high titres, extremely virulent and antigenically drifted and raise questions about how the population may best be protected from them, particularly in the light of possible changes in vaccine production which are being encouraged to increase capability and reduce costs. The study has implications for the ecology of poliovirus in the human gut and highlights the risks that such vaccine-derived isolates pose for polio re-emergence in the post-eradication era.
PMCID: PMC4552295  PMID: 26313548
13.  High resolution identity testing of inactivated poliovirus vaccines 
Vaccine  2015;33(30):3533-3541.
•Identity testing is a critical step in the quality control process.•Serological testing is the current approved method, but has certain limitations.•Existing molecular methods (qPCR) provide information about small genomic regions.•Random amplification and shotgun sequencing provide full genome coverage.•Distinction of highly similar viruses, and manufacturer-specific differences is possible.
Definitive identification of poliovirus strains in vaccines is essential for quality control, particularly where multiple wild-type and Sabin strains are produced in the same facility. Sequence-based identification provides the ultimate in identity testing and would offer several advantages over serological methods.
We employed random RT-PCR and high throughput sequencing to recover full-length genome sequences from monovalent and trivalent poliovirus vaccine products at various stages of the manufacturing process.
All expected strains were detected in previously characterised products and the method permitted identification of strains comprising as little as 0.1% of sequence reads. Highly similar Mahoney and Sabin 1 strains were readily discriminated on the basis of specific variant positions. Analysis of a product known to contain incorrect strains demonstrated that the method correctly identified the contaminants.
Random RT-PCR and shotgun sequencing provided high resolution identification of vaccine components. In addition to the recovery of full-length genome sequences, the method could also be easily adapted to the characterisation of minor variant frequencies and distinction of closely related products on the basis of distinguishing consensus and low frequency polymorphisms.
PMCID: PMC4504004  PMID: 26049003
Inactivated poliovirus vaccine; IPV; Vaccine contamination; Deep sequencing
14.  Major Histocompatibility Complex Associations of Ankylosing Spondylitis are Complex and Involve Further Epistasis with ERAP1 
Nature communications  2015;6:7146.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common, highly heritable, inflammatory arthritis for which HLA-B*27 is the major genetic risk factor, although its role in the aetiology of AS remains elusive. To better understand the genetic basis of the MHC susceptibility loci, we genotyped 7,264 MHC SNPs in 22,647 AS cases and controls of European descent. We impute SNPs, classical HLA alleles and amino acid residues within HLA proteins, and tested these for association to AS status. Here we show that in addition to effects due to HLA-B*27 alleles, several other HLA-B alleles also affect susceptibility. After controlling for the associated haplotypes in HLA-B we observe independent associations with variants in the HLA-A, HLA-DPB1 and HLA-DRB1 loci. We also demonstrate that the ERAP1 SNP rs30187 association is not restricted only to carriers of HLA-B*27 but also found in HLA-B*40:01 carriers independently of HLA-B*27 genotype.
PMCID: PMC4443427  PMID: 25994336
15.  High-Density Genotyping of Immune Loci in Koreans and Europeans Identifies Eight New Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Loci 
A highly polygenic etiology and high degree of allele-sharing between ancestries have been well-elucidated in genetic studies of rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, the high-density genotyping array Immunochip for immune disease loci identified 14 new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci among individuals of European ancestry. Here, we aimed to identify new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci using Korean-specific Immunochip data.
We analyzed Korean rheumatoid arthritis case-control samples using the Immunochip and GWAS array to search for new risk alleles of rheumatoid arthritis with anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies. To increase power, we performed a meta-analysis of Korean data with previously published European Immunochip and GWAS data, for a total sample size of 9,299 Korean and 45,790 European case-control samples.
We identified 8 new rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility loci (TNFSF4, LBH, EOMES, ETS1–FLI1, COG6, RAD51B, UBASH3A and SYNGR1) that passed a genome-wide significance threshold (p<5×10−8), with evidence for three independent risk alleles at 1q25/TNFSF4. The risk alleles from the 7 new loci except for the TNFSF4 locus (monomorphic in Koreans), together with risk alleles from previously established RA risk loci, exhibited a high correlation of effect sizes between ancestries. Further, we refined the number of SNPs that represent potentially causal variants through a trans-ethnic comparison of densely genotyped SNPs.
This study demonstrates the advantage of dense-mapping and trans-ancestral analysis for identification of potentially causal SNPs. In addition, our findings support the importance of T cells in the pathogenesis and the fact of frequent overlap of risk loci among diverse autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4467986  PMID: 24532676
Rheumatoid arthritis; Gene polymorphism; Anti-CCP
16.  Clinical Effects of Liraglutide in a Real-World Setting in Spain: eDiabetes-Monitor SEEN Diabetes Mellitus Working Group Study 
Diabetes Therapy  2015;6(2):173-185.
A limitation with randomized controlled trials is that, while they provide unbiased evidence of the efficacy of interventions, they do so under unreal conditions and in a very limited and highly selected patient population. Our aim was to provide data about the effectiveness of liraglutide treatment in a real-world and clinical practice setting.
In a retrospective and observational study, data from 753 patients with type 2 diabetes were recorded through an online tool (eDiabetes-Monitor).
Mean baseline glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) was 8.4 ± 1.4% and mean body mass index (BMI) was 38.6 ± 5.4 kg/m2. After 3–6 months of treatment with liraglutide, we observed a change in HbA1c of −1.1 ± 1.2%, −4.6 ± 5.3 kg in weight and −1.7 ± 2.0 kg/m2 in BMI (p < 0.001 for all). Compared to baseline, there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (−5.9 mmHg, p < 0.001), diastolic blood pressure (−3.2 mmHg, p < 0.001), LDL cholesterol (−0.189 mmol/l, p < 0.001) and triglycerides (−0.09 mmol/l, p = 0.021). In patients switched from DPP-4 inhibitors, liraglutide induced a decrease of −1.0% in HbA1c (p < 0.001) and a reduction in weight (−4.5 kg, p < 0.001). In patients treated with liraglutide as an add-on therapy to insulin a decrease of −1.08% in HbA1c (p < 0.001) and a weight reduction of −4.15 kg (p < 0.001) were observed.
Our study confirms the effectiveness of liraglutide in a real-life and clinical practice setting.
Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13300-015-0112-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4478178  PMID: 26055216
Effectiveness; Liraglutide; Real life; Type 2 diabetes
17.  Major histocompatibility complex associations of ankylosing spondylitis are complex and involve further epistasis with ERAP1 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7146.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common, highly heritable, inflammatory arthritis for which HLA-B*27 is the major genetic risk factor, although its role in the aetiology of AS remains elusive. To better understand the genetic basis of the MHC susceptibility loci, we genotyped 7,264 MHC SNPs in 22,647 AS cases and controls of European descent. We impute SNPs, classical HLA alleles and amino-acid residues within HLA proteins, and tested these for association to AS status. Here we show that in addition to effects due to HLA-B*27 alleles, several other HLA-B alleles also affect susceptibility. After controlling for the associated haplotypes in HLA-B, we observe independent associations with variants in the HLA-A, HLA-DPB1 and HLA-DRB1 loci. We also demonstrate that the ERAP1 SNP rs30187 association is not restricted only to carriers of HLA-B*27 but also found in HLA-B*40:01 carriers independently of HLA-B*27 genotype.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a common, highly inheritable inflammatory arthritis with poorly understood biology. Here Brown, Cortes and colleagues use fine mapping of the major histocompatibility complex and identify novel associations, and identify other HLA alleles that like HLA-B27 interact with ERAP1 variants to influence disease risk.
PMCID: PMC4443427  PMID: 25994336
19.  TYK2 Protein-Coding Variants Protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis and Autoimmunity, with No Evidence of Major Pleiotropic Effects on Non-Autoimmune Complex Traits 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122271.
Despite the success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in detecting a large number of loci for complex phenotypes such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility, the lack of information on the causal genes leaves important challenges to interpret GWAS results in the context of the disease biology. Here, we genetically fine-map the RA risk locus at 19p13 to define causal variants, and explore the pleiotropic effects of these same variants in other complex traits. First, we combined Immunochip dense genotyping (n = 23,092 case/control samples), Exomechip genotyping (n = 18,409 case/control samples) and targeted exon-sequencing (n = 2,236 case/controls samples) to demonstrate that three protein-coding variants in TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2) independently protect against RA: P1104A (rs34536443, OR = 0.66, P = 2.3x10-21), A928V (rs35018800, OR = 0.53, P = 1.2x10-9), and I684S (rs12720356, OR = 0.86, P = 4.6x10-7). Second, we show that the same three TYK2 variants protect against systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, Pomnibus = 6x10-18), and provide suggestive evidence that two of the TYK2 variants (P1104A and A928V) may also protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Pomnibus = 0.005). Finally, in a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) assessing >500 phenotypes using electronic medical records (EMR) in >29,000 subjects, we found no convincing evidence for association of P1104A and A928V with complex phenotypes other than autoimmune diseases such as RA, SLE and IBD. Together, our results demonstrate the role of TYK2 in the pathogenesis of RA, SLE and IBD, and provide supporting evidence for TYK2 as a promising drug target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4388675  PMID: 25849893
20.  Effect of Formaldehyde Inactivation on Poliovirus 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(20):11955-11964.
Inactivated polio vaccines, which have been used in many countries for more than 50 years, are produced by treating live poliovirus (PV) with formaldehyde. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying virus inactivation are not well understood. Infection by PV is initiated by virus binding to specific cell receptors, which results in viral particles undergoing sequential conformational changes that generate altered structural forms (135S and 80S particles) and leads to virus cell entry. We have analyzed the ability of inactivated PV to bind to the human poliovirus receptor (hPVR) using various techniques such as ultracentrifugation, fluorescence-activated cell sorting flow cytometry and real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). The results showed that although retaining the ability to bind to hPVR, inactivated PV bound less efficiently in comparison to live PV. We also found that inactivated PV showed resistance to structural conversion in vitro, as judged by measuring changes in antigenicity, the ability to bind to hPVR, and viral RNA release at high temperature. Furthermore, viral RNA from inactivated PV was shown to be modified, since cDNA yields obtained by RT-PCR amplification were severely reduced and no infectious virus was recovered after RNA transfection into susceptible cells.
IMPORTANCE This study represents a novel insight into the molecular mechanisms responsible for poliovirus inactivation. We show that inactivation with formaldehyde has an effect on early steps of viral replication as it reduces the ability of PV to bind to hPVR, decreases the sensitivity of PV to convert to 135S particles, and abolishes the infectivity of its viral RNA. These changes are likely responsible for the loss of infectivity shown by PV following inactivation. Techniques used in this study represent new approaches for the characterization of inactivated PV products and could be useful in developing improved methods for the production and quality control testing of inactivated polio vaccines. Measuring the antigenicity, capsid stability, and RNA integrity of inactivated PV samples could help establishing the optimal balance between the loss of infectivity and the preservation of virus antigenicity during inactivation.
PMCID: PMC4178759  PMID: 25100844
21.  Rheumatoid arthritis response to treatment across IgG1 allotype – anti-TNF incompatibility: a case-only study 
We have hypothesized that incompatibility between the G1m genotype of the patient and the G1m1 and G1m17 allotypes carried by infliximab (INX) and adalimumab (ADM) could decrease the efficacy of these anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) antibodies in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The G1m genotypes were analyzed in three collections of patients with RA totaling 1037 subjects. The first, used for discovery, comprised 215 Spanish patients. The second and third were successively used for replication. They included 429 British and Greek patients and 393 Spanish and British patients, respectively. Two outcomes were considered: change in the Disease Activity Score in 28 joint (ΔDAS28) and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
An association between less response to INX and incompatibility of the G1m1,17 allotype was found in the discovery collection at 6 months of treatment (P = 0.03). This association was confirmed in the replications (P = 0.02 and 0.08, respectively) leading to a global association (P = 0.001) that involved a mean difference in ΔDAS28 of 0.4 units between compatible and incompatible patients (2.3 ± 1.5 in compatible patients vs. 1.9 ± 1.5 in incompatible patients) and an increase in responders and decrease in non-responders according to the EULAR criteria (P = 0.03). A similar association was suggested for patients treated with ADM in the discovery collection, but it was not supported by replication.
Our results suggest that G1m1,17 allotypes are associated with response to INX and could aid improved therapeutic targeting in RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0571-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4411723  PMID: 25885039
22.  A systemic sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus pan-meta-GWAS reveals new shared susceptibility loci 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(19):4021-4029.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are two archetypal systemic autoimmune diseases which have been shown to share multiple genetic susceptibility loci. In order to gain insight into the genetic basis of these diseases, we performed a pan-meta-analysis of two genome-wide association studies (GWASs) together with a replication stage including additional SSc and SLE cohorts. This increased the sample size to a total of 21 109 (6835 cases and 14 274 controls). We selected for replication 19 SNPs from the GWAS data. We were able to validate KIAA0319L (P = 3.31 × 10−11, OR = 1.49) as novel susceptibility loci for SSc and SLE. Furthermore, we also determined that the previously described SLE susceptibility loci PXK (P = 3.27 × 10−11, OR = 1.20) and JAZF1 (P = 1.11 × 10−8, OR = 1.13) are shared with SSc. Supporting these new discoveries, we observed that KIAA0319L was overexpressed in peripheral blood cells of SSc and SLE patients compared with healthy controls. With these, we add three (KIAA0319L, PXK and JAZF1) and one (KIAA0319L) new susceptibility loci for SSc and SLE, respectively, increasing significantly the knowledge of the genetic basis of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3766185  PMID: 23740937
23.  Genetics of rheumatoid arthritis contributes to biology and drug discovery 
Okada, Yukinori | Wu, Di | Trynka, Gosia | Raj, Towfique | Terao, Chikashi | Ikari, Katsunori | Kochi, Yuta | Ohmura, Koichiro | Suzuki, Akari | Yoshida, Shinji | Graham, Robert R. | Manoharan, Arun | Ortmann, Ward | Bhangale, Tushar | Denny, Joshua C. | Carroll, Robert J. | Eyler, Anne E. | Greenberg, Jeffrey D. | Kremer, Joel M. | Pappas, Dimitrios A. | Jiang, Lei | Yin, Jian | Ye, Lingying | Su, Ding-Feng | Yang, Jian | Xie, Gang | Keystone, Ed | Westra, Harm-Jan | Esko, Tõnu | Metspalu, Andres | Zhou, Xuezhong | Gupta, Namrata | Mirel, Daniel | Stahl, Eli A. | Diogo, Dorothée | Cui, Jing | Liao, Katherine | Guo, Michael H. | Myouzen, Keiko | Kawaguchi, Takahisa | Coenen, Marieke J.H. | van Riel, Piet L.C.M. | van de Laar, Mart A.F.J. | Guchelaar, Henk-Jan | Huizinga, Tom W.J. | Dieudé, Philippe | Mariette, Xavier | Bridges, S. Louis | Zhernakova, Alexandra | Toes, Rene E.M. | Tak, Paul P. | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Bang, So-Young | Lee, Hye-Soon | Martin, Javier | Gonzalez-Gay, Miguel A. | Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Luis | Rantapää-Dahlqvist, Solbritt | Ärlestig, Lisbeth | Choi, Hyon K. | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Galan, Pilar | Lathrop, Mark | Eyre, Steve | Bowes, John | Barton, Anne | de Vries, Niek | Moreland, Larry W. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Karlson, Elizabeth W. | Taniguchi, Atsuo | Yamada, Ryo | Kubo, Michiaki | Liu, Jun S. | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Worthington, Jane | Padyukov, Leonid | Klareskog, Lars | Gregersen, Peter K. | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Stranger, Barbara E. | De Jager, Philip L. | Franke, Lude | Visscher, Peter M. | Brown, Matthew A. | Yamanaka, Hisashi | Mimori, Tsuneyo | Takahashi, Atsushi | Xu, Huji | Behrens, Timothy W. | Siminovitch, Katherine A. | Momohara, Shigeki | Matsuda, Fumihiko | Yamamoto, Kazuhiko | Plenge, Robert M.
Nature  2013;506(7488):376-381.
A major challenge in human genetics is to devise a systematic strategy to integrate disease-associated variants with diverse genomic and biological datasets to provide insight into disease pathogenesis and guide drug discovery for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)1. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis in a total of >100,000 subjects of European and Asian ancestries (29,880 RA cases and 73,758 controls), by evaluating ~10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We discovered 42 novel RA risk loci at a genome-wide level of significance, bringing the total to 1012–4. We devised an in-silico pipeline using established bioinformatics methods based on functional annotation5, cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL)6, and pathway analyses7–9 – as well as novel methods based on genetic overlap with human primary immunodeficiency (PID), hematological cancer somatic mutations and knock-out mouse phenotypes – to identify 98 biological candidate genes at these 101 risk loci. We demonstrate that these genes are the targets of approved therapies for RA, and further suggest that drugs approved for other indications may be repurposed for the treatment of RA. Together, this comprehensive genetic study sheds light on fundamental genes, pathways and cell types that contribute to RA pathogenesis, and provides empirical evidence that the genetics of RA can provide important information for drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3944098  PMID: 24390342
24.  Emerging Strategies and Integrated Systems Microbiology Technologies for Biodiscovery of Marine Bioactive Compounds 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(6):3516-3559.
Marine microorganisms continue to be a source of structurally and biologically novel compounds with potential use in the biotechnology industry. The unique physiochemical properties of the marine environment (such as pH, pressure, temperature, osmolarity) and uncommon functional groups (such as isonitrile, dichloroimine, isocyanate, and halogenated functional groups) are frequently found in marine metabolites. These facts have resulted in the production of bioactive substances with different properties than those found in terrestrial habitats. In fact, the marine environment contains a relatively untapped reservoir of bioactivity. Recent advances in genomics, metagenomics, proteomics, combinatorial biosynthesis, synthetic biology, screening methods, expression systems, bioinformatics, and the ever increasing availability of sequenced genomes provides us with more opportunities than ever in the discovery of novel bioactive compounds and biocatalysts. The combination of these advanced techniques with traditional techniques, together with the use of dereplication strategies to eliminate known compounds, provides a powerful tool in the discovery of novel marine bioactive compounds. This review outlines and discusses the emerging strategies for the biodiscovery of these bioactive compounds.
PMCID: PMC4071589  PMID: 24918453
marine bioactive compounds; metagenomics; synthetic biology; biocatalyst discovery; metaproteomic; dereplication; omic approaches
25.  Caries-free subjects have high levels of urease and arginine deiminase activity 
Journal of Applied Oral Science  2014;22(3):235-240.
This study investigated the relationship between urease and arginine deiminase system (ADS) activities and dental caries through a cross-sectional study.
Material and Methods
Urease and ADS activities were measured in saliva and plaque samples from 10 caries-free subjects and 13 caries-active. Urease activity was obtained from the ammonia produced by incubation of plaque and saliva samples in urea. ADS activity was obtained from the ammonia generated by the arginine-HCl and Tris-maleate buffer. Specific activity was defined as micromoles of ammonia per minute per milligram of protein. Shapiro-Wilk statistical test was used to analyze the distribution of the data, and Mann-Whitney test was used to determine the significance of the data.
The specific urease activity in saliva and plaque was significantly higher in individuals with low DMFT scores. ADS activity in saliva (6.050 vs 1.350, p=0.0154) and plaque (8.830 vs 1.210, p=0.025) was also higher in individuals with low DMFT scores.
Caries-free subjects had a higher ammonia generation activity by urease and arginine deiminase system for both saliva and plaque samples than low caries-active subjects. High levels of alkali production in oral environment were related to caries-free subjects.
PMCID: PMC4072275  PMID: 25025565
Alkali; Arginine; Dental plaque; Saliva; Urease; Dental caries

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