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1.  Imputing Variants in HLA-DR Beta Genes Reveals That HLA-DRB1 Is Solely Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0150283.
The genetic association of HLA-DRB1 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is well documented, but association with other HLA-DR beta genes (HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4 and HLA-DRB5) has not been thoroughly studied, despite their similar functions and chromosomal positions. We examined variants in all functional HLA-DR beta genes in RA and SLE patients and controls, down to the amino-acid level, to better understand disease association with the HLA-DR locus. To this end, we improved an existing HLA reference panel to impute variants in all protein-coding HLA-DR beta genes. Using the reference panel, HLA variants were inferred from high-density SNP data of 9,271 RA-control subjects and 5,342 SLE-control subjects. Disease association tests were performed by logistic regression and log-likelihood ratio tests. After imputation using the newly constructed HLA reference panel and statistical analysis, we observed that HLA-DRB1 variants better accounted for the association between MHC and susceptibility to RA and SLE than did the other three HLA-DRB variants. Moreover, there were no secondary effects in HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4, or HLA-DRB5 in RA or SLE. Of all the HLA-DR beta chain paralogs, those encoded by HLA-DRB1 solely or dominantly influence susceptibility to RA and SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150283
PMCID: PMC4769216  PMID: 26919467
2.  High-density genotyping of immune-related loci identifies new SLE risk variants in individuals with Asian ancestry 
Nature genetics  2016;48(3):323-330.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has a strong but incompletely understood genetic architecture. We conducted an association study with replication in 4,492 SLE cases and 12,675 controls from six East-Asian cohorts, to identify novel and better localize known SLE susceptibility loci. We identified 10 novel loci as well as 20 known loci with genome-wide significance. Among the novel loci, the most significant was GTF2IRD1-GTF2I at 7q11.23 (rs73366469, Pmeta=3.75×10−117, OR=2.38), followed by DEF6, IL12B, TCF7, TERT, CD226, PCNXL3, RASGRP1, SYNGR1 and SIGLEC6. We localized the most likely functional variants for each locus by analyzing epigenetic marks and gene regulation data. Ten putative variants are known to alter cis- or trans-gene expression. Enrichment analysis highlights the importance of these loci in B- and T-cell biology. Together with previously known loci, the explained heritability of SLE increases to 24%. Novel loci share functional and ontological characteristics with previously reported loci, and are possible drug targets for SLE therapeutics.
doi:10.1038/ng.3496
PMCID: PMC4767573  PMID: 26808113
3.  Confirmation of an Association Between rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 Region and Multiple Autoimmune Diseases 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):323-329.
Objective
Autoimmune diseases often have susceptibility genes in common, indicating similar molecular mechanisms. Increasing evidence suggests that rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 region is strongly associated with multiple autoimmune diseases in individuals of European descent. This study was undertaken to attempt to replicate the association between rs6822844 and 6 different immune-mediated diseases in non-European populations, and to perform disease-specific and overall meta-analyses using data from previously published studies.
Methods
We evaluated case–control associations between rs6822844 and celiac disease (CD) in subjects from Argentina; rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in subjects from Colombia; and Behçet's disease (BD) in subjects from Turkey. Allele and gene distributions were compared between cases and controls. Meta-analyses were performed using data from the present study and previous studies.
Results
We detected significant associations of rs6822844 with SLE (P = 0.008), type 1 DM (P = 0.014), RA (P = 0.019), and primary SS (P = 0.033) but not with BD (P = 0.34) or CD (P = 0.98). We identified little evidence of population differentiation (FST = 0.01) within cases and controls from Argentina and Colombia, suggesting that association was not influenced by population substructure. Disease-specific meta-analysis indicated significant association for RA (Pmeta = 3.61 × 10–6), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) (Pmeta = 3.48 × 10–12), type 1 DM (Pmeta = 5.33 × 10–5), and CD (Pmeta = 5.30 × 10–3). Overall meta-analysis across all autoimmune diseases reinforced association with rs6822844 (23 data sets; Pmeta = 2.61 × 10–25, odds ratio 0.73 [95% confidence interval 0.69–0.78]).
Conclusion
Our results indicate that there is an association between rs6822844 and multiple auto-immune diseases in non-European populations. Meta-analysis results strongly reinforce this robust association across multiple autoimmune diseases in both European-derived and non-European populations.
doi:10.1002/art.27222
PMCID: PMC3028384  PMID: 20112382
4.  Identification of MTMR3 as a novel susceptibility gene for lupus nephritis in northern Han Chinese by shared-gene analysis with IgA nephropathy 
Objectives
Recent genome-wide association studies have identified several novel susceptibility genes for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and IgA nephropathy (IgAN). Since both lupus nephritis (LN) and IgAN are autoimmune kidney diseases, they may share common disease mechanisms that overlap with genetic susceptibility. To test this hypothesis, we sought to identify genetic variants associated with IgAN in LN.
Methods
In the first stage, 500 LN patients, 240 SLE patients without LN, and 500 healthy controls were enrolled. Fifteen reported SNPs with top association signals with IgAN were selected for further testing in LN. Three independent cohorts from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong were included as replicates. We also analyzed the functional significance of identified non-coding variants on regulatory motifs and gene expression.
Results
Except for associations with HLA gene polymorphisms, genetic variants of MTMR3 in 22q12 showed associations with LN (rs9983A with P = 2.07×10−3; OR 1.61; 95% CI 1.19–2.19) compared to healthy controls in the first stage. In replications, associations were replicated and reinforced with northern (LN vs. non-LN patients, P = 0.01) but not southern Han Chinese, although significant genetic heterogeneity was observed. In silico analyses predicted conservative and regulatory features of rs9983. In expression analysis, we observed lower MTMR3 transcription levels in blood samples with rs9983A and renal biopsies from LN and IgAN.
Conclusions
Our results suggested that the MTMR3 gene was shared between IgAN and LN in the northern Chinese, further highlighting the role of autophagy in SLE. However, widespread replication of these experiments, fine mapping, and functional assays are required to establish this connection.
doi:10.1002/art.38749
PMCID: PMC4180767  PMID: 24943867
IgA nephropathy; lupus nephritis; MTMR3; SLE
5.  Interaction between glutathione and Apoptosis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;12(7):741-751.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by imbalance redox state and increased apoptosis. The activation, proliferation and cell death of lymphocytes are dependent on intracellular levels of glutathione and controlled production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Changes in the intracellular redox environment of cells, through oxygen-derived free radical production known as oxidative stress, have been reported to be critical for cellular immune dysfunction, activation of apoptotic enzymes and apoptosis. The shift in the cellular GSH-to-GSSG redox balance in favor of the oxidized species, GSSG, constitutes an important signal that can decide the fate of the abnormal apoptosis in the disease. The current review will focus on four main areas: (1) general description of oxidative stress markers in SLE, (2) alteration of redox state and complication of disease (3) role of redox mechanisms in the initiation and execution phases of apoptosis, and (4) intracellular glutathione and its checkpoints with lymphocyte apoptosis represent novel targets for pharmacological intervention in SLE.
doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2012.12.007
PMCID: PMC3625500  PMID: 23279845
Reactive oxygen species; redox state; apoptosis; glutathione; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
6.  Evaluation of SLE Susceptibility Genes in Malaysians 
Autoimmune Diseases  2014;2014:305436.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous autoimmune disease with strong genetic and environmental components. Our objective was to replicate 25 recently identified SLE susceptibility genes in two distinct populations (Chinese (CH) and Malays (MA)) from Malaysia. We genotyped 347 SLE cases and 356 controls (CH and MA) using the ImmunoChip array and performed an admixture corrected case-control association analysis. Associated genes were grouped into five immune-related pathways. While CH were largely homogenous, MA had three ancestry components (average 82.3% Asian, 14.5% European, and 3.2% African). Ancestry proportions were significantly different between cases and controls in MA. We identified 22 genes with at least one associated SNP (P < 0.05). The strongest signal was at HLA-DRA (PMeta = 9.96 × 10−9; PCH = 6.57 × 10−8, PMA = 6.73 × 10−3); the strongest non-HLA signal occurred at STAT4 (PMeta = 1.67 × 10−7; PCH = 2.88 × 10−6, PMA = 2.99 × 10−3). Most of these genes were associated with B- and T-cell function and signaling pathways. Our exploratory study using high-density fine-mapping suggests that most of the established SLE genes are also associated in the major ethnicities of Malaysia. However, these novel SNPs showed stronger association in these Asian populations than with the SNPs reported in previous studies.
doi:10.1155/2014/305436
PMCID: PMC3948475  PMID: 24696779
7.  Gene Network Analysis of Small Molecules with Autoimmune Disease Associated Genes Predicts a Novel Strategy for Drug Efficacy 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;12(4):510-522.
Numerous genes/SNPs in autoimmune diseases (ADs) are identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and likely to contribute in developing autoimmune phenotypes. Constructions of biologically meaningful pathways are necessary to determine how these genes interact each other and with other small molecules to develop various complex ADs phenotypes prior to beginning time-consuming rigorous experimentation. We have constructed biological pathways with genetically identified genes leading to shared ADs phenotypes. Various environmental and endogenous factors interact with these ADs associated genes suggesting their critical role in developing diseases and further association studies could be designed for assessing the role of these factors with risk allele in a specific gene. Additionally, existing drugs that have been used long before the identification of these genetically associated genes also interact with these newly associated genes. Thus advanced therapeutic strategies could be designed by grouping patients with risk allele(s) in particular genes that directly or closely interact with the specified drugs. This drug-susceptible gene network will not only increase our understanding about the additional molecular basis for effectiveness against these diseases but also which drug could be more effective for those patients carrying risk allele(s) in that gene. Additionally, we have also identified several interlinking genes in the pathways that could be used for designing future association studies.
doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2012.09.001
PMCID: PMC3577986  PMID: 23000205
8.  Novel identified associations of RGS1 and RASGRP1 variants in IgA Nephropathy 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:35781.
Known susceptibility loci together can only explain about 6–8% of the disease heritability of IgA nephropathy (IgAN), suggesting that there are still a large number of genetic variants remained to be discovered. We previously identified IgAN and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)/lupus nephritis (LN) shared many loci based on GWAS on Chinese populations. The more recent study with high-density genotyping of immune-related loci in individuals with Asian ancestry identified 10 new and 6 suggestive loci in SLE. In the current study, we thus included all the lead SNPs from these 16 loci reported, and firstly tested their associations in 1,248 patients with sporadic IgAN, 737 patients with LN and 1,187 controls. Significant associations identified in IgAN were replicated in additional 500 patients and 2372 controls. rs12022418 in RGS1 (p = 3.0 × 10−6) and rs7170151 in RASGRP1 (p = 1.9 × 10−5) showed novel associations in IgAN. Compared to SNPs that were in LD with them, the associated variants showed higher potential of regulatory features by affecting gene expression. And systemic evaluation of GWAS data supported the pleiotropic effects of RGS1 and RASGRP1 variants in mediating human complex diseases. In conclusion, novel risk loci shared between IgAN and SLE/LN were identified, which may shed new light to exploit the potential pathogenesis for those two diseases.
doi:10.1038/srep35781
PMCID: PMC5090199  PMID: 27804980
9.  Evaluation of genetic association between an ITGAM non-synonymous SNP (rs1143679) and multiple autoimmune diseases 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2011;11(4):276-280.
Many autoimmune diseases (ADs) share similar underlying pathology and have a tendency to cluster within families, supporting the involvement of shared susceptibility genes. To date, most of the genetic variants associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility also show association with others ADs. ITGAM and its associated ‘predisposing’ variant (rs1143679, Arg77His), predicted to alter the tertiary structures of the ligand-binding domain of ITGAM, may play a key role for SLE pathogenesis. The aim of this study is to examine whether the ITGAM variant is also associated with other ADs. We evaluated case-control association between rs1143679 and ADs (N=18,457) including primary Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, celiac disease, and type-1 diabetes. We also performed meta-analyses using our data in addition to available published data. Although the risk allele ‘A’ is relatively more frequent among cases for each disease, it was not significantly associated with any other ADs tested in this study. However, the meta-analysis for systemic sclerosis was associated with rs1143679 (pmeta=0.008). In summary, this study explored the role of ITGAM in general autoimmunity in seven non-lupus ADs, and only found association for systemic sclerosis when our results were combined with published results. Thus ITGAM may not be a general autoimmunity gene but this variant may be specifically associated with SLE and systemic sclerosis.
doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2011.07.007
PMCID: PMC3224188  PMID: 21840425
ITGAM; autoimmune diseases; genetic susceptibility
10.  GWAS in an Amerindian ancestry population reveals novel systemic lupus erythematosus risk loci and the role of European admixture 
OBJECTIVES
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component. Our aim was to perform the first genome-wide association study on individuals from the Americas enriched for Native American heritage.
MATERIALS and METHODS
We analyzed 3,710 individuals from four countries of Latin America and the Unites States diagnosed with SLE and healthy controls. Samples were genotyped with the HumanOmni1 BeadChip. Data of out-of-study controls was obtained for the HumanOmni2.5. Statistical analyses were performed using SNPTEST and SNPGWA. Data was adjusted for genomic control and FDR. Imputation was done using IMPUTE2, and HiBAG for classical HLA alleles.
RESULTS
The IRF5-TNPO3 region showed the strongest association and largest odds ratio (OR) (rs10488631, Pgcadj = 2.61×10−29, OR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.88–2.39) followed by the HLA class II on the DQA2-DQB1 loci (rs9275572, Pgcadj = 1.11 × 10−16, OR = 1.62, 95% CI: 1.46–1.80; rs9271366, Pgcadj=6.46 × 10−12, OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.71–2.50). Other known SLE loci associated were ITGAM, STAT4, TNIP1, NCF2 and IRAK1. We identified a novel locus on 10q24.33 (rs4917385, Pgcadj =1.4×10−8) with a eQTL effect (Peqtl=8.0 × 10−37 at USMG5/miR1307), and describe novel loci. We corroborate SLE-risk loci previously identified in European and Asians. Local ancestry estimation showed that HLA allele risk contribution is of European ancestral origin. Imputation of HLA alleles suggested that autochthonous Native American haplotypes provide protection.
CONCLUSIONS
Our results show the insight gained by studying admixed populations to delineate the genetic architecture that underlies autoimmune and complex diseases.
doi:10.1002/art.39504
PMCID: PMC4829354  PMID: 26606652
11.  Non-synonymous variant (Gly307Ser) in CD226 is associated with susceptibility to multiple autoimmune diseases 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(7):1239-1244.
Objectives. Recently, a non-synonymous (Gly307Ser) variant, rs763361, in the CD226 gene was shown to be associated with multiple autoimmune diseases (ADs) in European Caucasian populations. However, shared autoimmunity with CD226 has not been evaluated in non-European populations. The aim of the present study is to assess the association of this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with ADs in non-European populations.
Methods. To replicate this association in non-European populations, we evaluated case–control association between rs763361 and coeliac disease (CED) samples from Argentina; SLE, RA, type-1 diabetes (T1D) and primary SS (pSS) from Colombia; and SLE samples from China and Japan. We genotyped rs763361 and evaluated its genetic association with multiple ADs, using χ2-test. For each association, odds ratio (OR) and 95% CI were calculated.
Results. We show that rs763361 is significantly associated with Argentinean CED (P = 0.0009, OR = 1.60). We also observed a trend of possible association with Chinese SLE (P = 0.01, OR = 1.19), RA (P = 0.047, OR = 1.25), SLE (P = 0.0899, OR = 1.24) and pSS (P = 0.09, OR = 1.33) in Colombians. Meta-analyses for SLE (using our three populations) and T1D (our population and three published populations) yielded significant association with rs763361, P = 0.009 (OR = 1.16) and P = 1.1.46 × 10−9 (OR = 1.14), respectively.
Conclusions. Our results demonstrate that the coding variant rs763361 in CD226 gene is associated with multiple ADs in non-European populations.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kep470
PMCID: PMC2909799  PMID: 20338887
CD226; Autoimmunity; Latin-America; Asia
12.  ITGAM coding variant (rs1143679) influences the risk of renal disease, discoid rash, and immunologic manifestations in lupus patients with European ancestry 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2009;69(7):1329-1332.
Purpose
We hypothesized that the coding variant (R77H), rs1143679, within ITGAM could predict specific clinical manifestations associated with lupus.
Method
To assess genetic association, 2366 lupus cases and 2931 unaffected controls with European ancestry were analyzed. Lupus patients were coded by the presence or absence of individual ACR criteria. Logistic regression and Pearson chi-square tests were used to assess statistical significance.
Results
First, for overall case-control analysis, we detected highly significant (p=2.22×10−21, OR=1.73) association. Second, using case-only analysis we detected significant association with renal criteria (p=0.0003), discoid rash (p=0.02), and immunologic criteria (p=0.04). Third, we compared them with healthy controls, the association became stronger for renal (p=4.69×10−22, OR=2.15), discoid (p=1.77×10−14, OR=2.03), and immunologic (p=3.49×10−22, OR = 1.86) criteria. Risk allele frequency increased from 10.6% (controls) to 17.0% (lupus), 20.4% (renal), 18.1% (immunologic), and 19.5% (discoid).
Conclusion
These results demonstrated a strong association between the risk allele (A) at rs1143679 and renal disease, discoid rash, and immunological manifestations of lupus.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.120543
PMCID: PMC2891778  PMID: 19939855
13.  Admixture in Hispanic-Americans: Its impact on ITGAM association and implications for admixture mapping in SLE 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):539-545.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) disproportionately affects minorities, such as Hispanic-Americans. Prevalence of SLE is 3–5 times higher in Hispanic Americans (HA) than European derived populations, and have more active disease at the time of diagnosis, with more serious organ system involvement. HA is an admixed population, it is possible that there is an effect of admixture on the relative risk of disease. This admixture can create substantial increase of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in both magnitude and range, which can provide a unique opportunity for admixture mapping. Main objectives of this study are to (a) estimate hidden population structure in HA individuals; (b) estimate individual ancestry proportions and its impact on SLE risk; (c) assess impact of admixture on ITGAM association, a recently identified SLE susceptibility gene; and (d) estimate power of admixture mapping in HA. Our dataset contained 1,125 individuals, of whom 884 (657 SLE cases and 227 controls) were self classified as HA. Using 107 unlinked ancestry informative markers (AIMs) we estimated hidden population structure and individual ancestry in HA. Out of 5,671 possible pair-wise LD, 54% were statistically significant, indicating recent population admixture. The best fitted model for HA was a four population model with average ancestry of European (48%), American-Indian (40%), African (8%) and a fourth population (4%) with unknown ancestry. We also identified significant higher risk associated with American-Indian ancestry (OR=4.84, P=0.0001, 95%CI=2.14—10.95) on overall SLE. We showed that ITGAM is associated as a risk factor for SLE (OR= 2.06, P=8.74×10−5, 95%CI=1.44–2.97). This association is not affected by population substructure or admixture. We have demonstrated that HA have great potential and are an 3 appropriate population for admixture mapping. As expected, the case-only design is more powerful than case-control design, for any given admixture proportion or ancestry risk ratio.
doi:10.1038/gene.2009.30
PMCID: PMC2714406  PMID: 19387459
SLE; Association; Hispanics; Admixture mapping; Hispanic-American; Population structure
14.  Drug risk factors associated with a sustained outbreak of Clostridium difficile diarrhea in a teaching hospital 
A case-control study was undertaken to identify and quantify antimicrobial and nonantimicrobial drug risk factors associated with a sustained outbreak of Clostridium difficile diarrhea on two medical (teaching and nonteaching) units and an oncology unit. In total, 80 cases associated with an endemic clone of toxigenic C difficile were compared with controls. Eighty controls were selected from a group of 290 controls randomly chosen from the outbreak period. The controls were matched to cases according to age, admitting diagnosis and unit of admission. Seventy (88%) patients in the case group received at least one antibiotic before diarrhea, compared with 37 (46%) patients in the control group. Major risk factors implicated in the development of C difficile diarrhea in hospitalized patients were the following antimicrobial agents: ceftazidime (adjusted odds ratio [aor]=26.01, 95% ci 5.67 to 119.19, P=0.0001); cefuroxime (aor=5.17, ci 1.86 to 14.36, P=0.005); ciprofloxacin (aor=3.81, ci 1.05 to 13.79, P=0.04); and clindamycin (aor=15.16, ci 2.93 to 78.44, P=0.004). This is the first time that the use of ciprofloxacin has been linked to the development of C difficile diarrhea. Use of gastrointestinal drugs (ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine, omeprazole and sucralfate) was also an added risk (aor=3.20, ci 1.39 to 7.34, P=0.01); however, antineoplastic therapy was not significant (P<0.53). Recognition of the specific high risk drugs may spur more restricted use of these agents, which may help in controlling C difficile diarrhea in hospitalized patients.
PMCID: PMC3250863  PMID: 22346513
Clostridium difficile diarrhea; Logistic regression; Risk factors; Selected drugs
15.  Association-heterogeneity mapping identifies an Asian-specific association of the GTF2I locus with rheumatoid arthritis 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:27563.
Considerable sharing of disease alleles among populations is well-characterized in autoimmune disorders (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), but there are some exceptional loci showing heterogenic association among populations. Here we investigated genetic variants with distinct effects on the development of rheumatoid arthritis in Asian and European populations. Ancestry-related association heterogeneity was examined using Cochran’s homogeneity tests for the disease association data from large Asian (n = 14,465; 9,299 discovery subjects and 5,166 validation subjects; 4 collections) and European (n = 45,790; 11 collections) rheumatoid arthritis case-control cohorts with Immunochip and genome-wide SNP array data. We identified significant heterogeneity between the two ancestries for the common variants in the GTF2I locus (PHeterogeneity = 9.6 × 10−9 at rs73366469) and showed that this heterogeneity was due to an Asian-specific association effect (ORMeta = 1.37 and PMeta = 4.2 × 10−13 in Asians; ORMeta = 1.00 and PMeta = 1.00 in Europeans). Trans-ancestral comparison and bioinfomatics analysis revealed a plausibly causal or disease-variant-tagging SNP (rs117026326; in linkage disequilibrium with rs73366469), whose minor allele is common in Asians but rare in Europeans. In conclusion, we identified largest-ever effect on Asian rheumatoid arthritis across human non-HLA regions at GTF2I by heterogeneity mapping followed by replication studies, and pinpointed a possible causal variant.
doi:10.1038/srep27563
PMCID: PMC4897688  PMID: 27272985
16.  Regulatory polymorphisms modulate the expression of HLA class II molecules and promote autoimmunity 
eLife  null;5:e12089.
Targeted sequencing of sixteen SLE risk loci among 1349 Caucasian cases and controls produced a comprehensive dataset of the variations causing susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Two independent disease association signals in the HLA-D region identified two regulatory regions containing 3562 polymorphisms that modified thirty-seven transcription factor binding sites. These extensive functional variations are a new and potent facet of HLA polymorphism. Variations modifying the consensus binding motifs of IRF4 and CTCF in the XL9 regulatory complex modified the transcription of HLA-DRB1, HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 in a chromosome-specific manner, resulting in a 2.5-fold increase in the surface expression of HLA-DR and DQ molecules on dendritic cells with SLE risk genotypes, which increases to over 4-fold after stimulation. Similar analyses of fifteen other SLE risk loci identified 1206 functional variants tightly linked with disease-associated SNPs and demonstrated that common disease alleles contain multiple causal variants modulating multiple immune system genes.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.12089.001
eLife digest
The human immune system defends the body against microbes and other threats. However, if this process goes wrong the immune system can attack the body’s own healthy cells, which can lead to serious autoimmune diseases.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease in which immune cells often attack internal organs – including the kidneys, nervous system and heart. Over the past decade, multiple genes have been linked with an increased risk of SLE. However, it is largely unknown how the sequences of these genes differ between individuals with SLE and healthy individuals, and the precise changes that lead to an increased risk of SLE are also not clear.
Now, Raj, Rai et al. have determined the genetic sequences of over 700 people with SLE and over 500 healthy individuals and looked for differences that influence susceptibility to the disease. The vast majority of differences were discovered in stretches of DNA that regulate the expression of nearby genes, rather than in DNA that encodes the structures of proteins. Notably, extensive differences were found in a region of the human genome that regulates the production of proteins called Human Leukocyte Antigen class II molecules; which are known to play a critical role in activating the immune system. Raj, Rai et al. found that slight changes to the regulatory DNA sequences resulted in an overabundance of these proteins, which led to a hyperactive immune system that is strongly associated with SLE.
Future studies could now ask if the changes to the regulatory DNA sequences highlighted by Raj, Rai et al. increase susceptibility to other autoimmune disorders as well. It may also be possible to use the increased understanding of how the immune system is regulated to develop new ways to minimize the rejection of organ transplants.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.12089.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.12089
PMCID: PMC4811771  PMID: 26880555
targeted sequencing; HLA; SLE risk; haplotype; risk allele; LD; Human
17.  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.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu455
PMCID: PMC4275071  PMID: 25205108
18.  An HLA-C amino-acid variant in addition to HLA-B*27 confers risk for ankylosing spondylitis in the Korean population 
Introduction
The presence of the HLA-B*27 allele is a major risk factor for the development of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), which causes chronic inflammation of the spine and other sites. We investigated residual effects outside HLA-B within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region in the Korean population.
Methods
Using the Korean HLA reference panel, we inferred the classic HLA alleles and amino-acid residues of the six HLA genes (HLA-A, -B, -C,-DPB1, -DQB1, and -DRB1) and MHC single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 3820 Korean subjects, including 654 Korean cases of AS and 3166 controls, who were genotyped by using Immunochip. Logistic regression and log-likelihood ratio tests were used in AS association tests for imputed markers.
Results
The most significant associations were identified at amino-acid positions in the epitope-binding site of HLA-B (P = 1.71 × 10−481 at position 70, P = 7.20 × 10−479 at position 97, and P = 2.54 × 10−484 at positions 114), highlighting the risk effect of the HLA-B*27 allele and the protective effects of other classic alleles. A secondary effect was located at the leucine at amino-acid position 116 in the epitope-binding site of HLA-C (P = 1.69 × 10−14), completely tagging the HLA-C*15:02 allele. This residue had a large effect in HLA-B*27-negative patients (odds ratio = 6.6, 95 % confidence interval = 3.8 to 11.4).
Conclusions
The four amino-acid positions of HLA-B and -C account for most of the associations between AS and MHC in the Korean population. This finding updates the list of AS susceptibility loci and provides new insight into AS pathogenesis mediated by MHC class I molecules.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0855-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0855-3
PMCID: PMC4662802  PMID: 26613595
19.  Localization of a Gene for Keratoconus to a 5.6-Mb Interval on 13q32 
Purpose
Keratoconus (KTCN) is a noninflammatory thinning and anterior protrusion of the cornea that results in steepening and distortion of the cornea, altered refractive powers, and reduced visual acuity. Several loci responsible for a familial form of KTCN have been mapped, however; no mutations in any genes have been identified for any of these loci. There is also evidence that VSX1 and SOD1 may be involved in the etiology of KTCN. The purpose of this study was to verify the available data and to identify a new keratoconus susceptibility locus.
Methods
KTCN without other ocular or systemic features was diagnosed in 18 families. VSX1 and SOD1 sequencing was performed on affected individuals and control subjects. Genomewide linkage analysis was then performed in all families using polymorphic microsatellite markers with an average spacing of 5 cM. Next, single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis, and a comparative genomic hybridization array were used in one family to assess a candidate region on 13q32.
Results
All previously reported KTCN loci were excluded. VSX1 and SOD1 were sequenced, and no potentially functional variants were found. One KTCN family yielded a maximum multipoint parametric LOD score of 4.1 and multipoint non-parametric linkage (NPL) LOD score of 3.2. Multipoint linkage and haplotype analysis narrowed the locus to a 5.6-Mb region between the SNPs rs9516572 and rs3825523 on 13q32.
Conclusions
The results exclude VSX1 and SOD1 as potential disease-causing genes in these families and localize a novel gene for keratoconus to a 5.6-Mb interval on 13q32.
doi:10.1167/iovs.08-2173
PMCID: PMC4547351  PMID: 19011015
20.  Combined protein- and nucleic acid-level effects of rs1143679 (R77H), a lupus-predisposing variant within ITGAM 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(15):4161-4176.
Integrin alpha M (ITGAM; CD11b) is a component of the macrophage-1 antigen complex, which mediates leukocyte adhesion, migration and phagocytosis as part of the immune system. We previously identified a missense polymorphism, rs1143679 (R77H), strongly associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the molecular mechanisms of this variant are incompletely understood. A meta-analysis of published and novel data on 28 439 individuals with European, African, Hispanic and Asian ancestries reinforces genetic association between rs1143679 and SLE [Pmeta = 3.60 × 10−90, odds ratio (OR) = 1.76]. Since rs1143679 is in the most active region of chromatin regulation and transcription factor binding in ITGAM, we quantitated ITGAM RNA and surface protein levels in monocytes from patients with each rs1143679 genotype. We observed that transcript levels significantly decreased for the risk allele (‘A’) relative to the non-risk allele (‘G’), in a dose-dependent fashion: (‘AA’ < ‘AG’ < ‘GG’). CD11b protein levels in patients' monocytes were directly correlated with RNA levels. Strikingly, heterozygous individuals express much lower (average 10- to 15-fold reduction) amounts of the ‘A’ transcript than ‘G’ transcript. We found that the non-risk sequence surrounding rs1143679 exhibits transcriptional enhancer activity in vivo and binds to Ku70/80, NFKB1 and EBF1 in vitro, functions that are significantly reduced with the risk allele. Mutant CD11b protein shows significantly reduced binding to fibrinogen and vitronectin, relative to non-risk, both in purified protein and in cellular models. This two-pronged contribution (nucleic acid- and protein-level) of the rs1143679 risk allele to decreasing ITGAM activity provides insight into the molecular mechanisms of its potent association with SLE.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu106
PMCID: PMC4082363  PMID: 24608226
21.  High-Density Genotyping of Immune Loci in Koreans and Europeans Identifies Eight New Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Loci 
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204749
PMCID: PMC4467986  PMID: 24532676
Rheumatoid arthritis; Gene polymorphism; Anti-CCP
22.  GDF15(MIC1) H6D Polymorphism Does Not Influence Cardiovascular Disease in a Latin American Population with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:270763.
Objective. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common autoimmune arthropathy worldwide. The increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in RA is not fully explained by classic risk factors. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of rs1058587 SNP within GDF15(MIC1) gene on the risk of CVD in a Colombian RA population. Methods. This was a cross-sectional analytical study in which 310 consecutive Colombian patients with RA and 228 age- and sex-matched controls were included and assessed for variables associated with CVD. The mixed cluster methodology based on multivariate descriptive methods such as principal components analysis and multiple correspondence analyses and regression tree (CART) predictive model were performed. Results. Of the 310 patients, 87.4% were women and CVD was reported in 69.5%. Significant differences concerning GDF15 polymorphism were not observed between patients and controls. Mean arterial pressure, current smoking, and some clusters were significantly associated with CVD. Conclusion. GDF15 (rs1058587) does not influence the development of CVD in the population studied.
doi:10.1155/2015/270763
PMCID: PMC4451155  PMID: 26090487
23.  Allelic heterogeneity in NCF2 associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility across four ethnic populations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(6):1656-1668.
Recent reports have associated NCF2, encoding a core component of the multi-protein NADPH oxidase (NADPHO), with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility in individuals of European ancestry. To identify ethnicity-specific and -robust variants within NCF2, we assessed 145 SNPs in and around the NCF2 gene in 5325 cases and 21 866 controls of European-American (EA), African-American (AA), Hispanic (HS) and Korean (KR) ancestry. Subsequent imputation, conditional, haplotype and bioinformatic analyses identified seven potentially functional SLE-predisposing variants. Association with non-synonymous rs17849502, previously reported in EA, was detected in EA, HS and AA (PEA = 1.01 × 10−54, PHS = 3.68 × 10−10, PAA = 0.03); synonymous rs17849501 was similarly significant. These SNPs were monomorphic in KR. Novel associations were detected with coding variants at rs35937854 in AA (PAA = 1.49 × 10−9), and rs13306575 in HS and KR (PHS = 7.04 × 10−7, PKR = 3.30 × 10−3). In KR, a 3-SNP haplotype was significantly associated (P = 4.20 × 10−7), implying that SLE predisposing variants were tagged. Significant SNP–SNP interaction (P = 0.02) was detected between rs13306575 and rs17849502 in HS, and a dramatically increased risk (OR = 6.55) with a risk allele at each locus. Molecular modeling predicts that these non-synonymous mutations could disrupt NADPHO complex assembly. The risk allele of rs17849501, located in a conserved transcriptional regulatory region, increased reporter gene activity, suggesting in vivo enhancer function. Our results not only establish allelic heterogeneity within NCF2 associated with SLE, but also emphasize the utility of multi-ethnic cohorts to identify predisposing variants explaining additional phenotypic variance (‘missing heritability’) of complex diseases like SLE.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt532
PMCID: PMC3929085  PMID: 24163247
24.  Gene–Gene Interaction of BLK, TNFSF4, TRAF1, TNFAIP3, and REL in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(1):222-231.
Objective
Although the number of convincingly established genetic associations with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has increased sharply over the last few years, refinement of these associations is required, and their potential roles in gene–gene interactions need to be further investigated. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in SLE have produced renewed interest in B cell/T cell responses and the NF-κB signaling pathway. The aim of this study was to search for possible gene–gene interactions based on identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in using an approach based on the role of signaling pathways.
Methods
The SNPs in BLK, TNFSF4, TRAF1, TNFAIP3, and REL were replicated in order to evaluate genetic associations with SLE. TaqMan genotyping was conducted in 804 Chinese patients with SLE and 722 matched control subjects. A multiple logistic regression model was used to estimate the multiplicative interaction effect of the SNPs, and additive interactions were analyzed by 2 × 2 factorial designs. Data from a previously published GWAS conducted by the International Consortium on the Genetics of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus were derived for comparison and validation.
Results
Single-marker analysis validated the association of BLK rs2736340 (P = 4.25 × 10–6) as well as TNFSF4 rs2205960 (P = 2.82 × 10–5) and TNFAIP3 rs5029939 (P = 1.92 × 10–3) with SLE susceptibility in Chinese. Multiplicative interaction analysis indicated that BLK had an interactive effect with TNFSF4 in Chinese patients with SLE (P = 6.57 × 10–4). Additive interaction analysis revealed interactions between TRAF1 and TNFAIP3 in both Chinese (P = 2.18 × 10–3) and Caucasians (P = 2.86 × 10–4). In addition, multiple tendencies toward interactions were observed, and an additive effect was observed as the number of risk genotypes increased.
Conclusion
The results of this study provide evidence of the possible gene–gene interactions of BLK, TNFSF4, TRAF1, TNFAIP3, and REL in SLE, which may represent a synergic effect of T cells and B cells through the NF-κB pathway in determining immunologic aberration.
doi:10.1002/art.33318
PMCID: PMC3994469  PMID: 21905002
25.  Oxidative stress and its biomarkers in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease whose etiology remains largely unknown. The uncontrolled oxidative stress in SLE contributes to functional oxidative modifications of cellular protein, lipid and DNA and consequences of oxidative modification play a crucial role in immunomodulation and trigger autoimmunity. Measurements of oxidative modified protein, lipid and DNA in biological samples from SLE patients may assist in the elucidation of the pathophysiological mechanisms of the oxidative stress-related damage, the prediction of disease prognosis and the selection of adequate treatment in the early stage of disease. Application of these biomarkers in disease may indicate the early effectiveness of the therapy. This review is intended to provide an overview of various reactive oxygen species (ROS) formed during the state of disease and their biomarkers linking with disease. The first part of the review presents biochemistry and pathophysiology of ROS and antioxidant system in disease. The second part of the review discusses the recent development of oxidative stress biomarkers that relates pathogenesis in SLE patients and animal model. Finally, this review also describes the reported clinical trials of antioxidant in the disease that have evaluated the efficacy of antioxidant in the management of disease with ongoing conventional therapy.
doi:10.1186/1423-0127-21-23
PMCID: PMC3995422  PMID: 24636579
Oxidative stress; Biomarkers; Antioxidant therapy; Systemic lupus erythematosus

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