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1.  Novel identification of the IRF7 region as an anticentromere autoantibody propensity locus in systemic sclerosis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(1):114-119.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are related chronic autoimmune diseases of complex aetiology in which the interferon (IFN) pathway plays a key role. Recent studies have reported an association between IRF7 and SLE which confers a risk to autoantibody production. A study was undertaken to investigate whether the IRF7 genomic region is also involved in susceptibility to SSc and the main clinical features.
Two case-control sets of Caucasian origin from the USA and Spain, comprising a total of 2316 cases of SSc and 2347 healthy controls, were included in the study. Five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the PHRF1-IRF7-CDHR5 locus were genotyped using TaqMan allelic discrimination technology. A meta-analysis was performed to test the overall effect of these genetic variants on SSc.
Four out of five analysed SNPs were Significantly associated with the presence of anticentromere autoantibodies (ACA) in the patients with SSc in the combined analysis (rs1131665: pFDR=6.14 × 10−4, OR=0.78; rs4963128: pFDR=6.14 × 10−4, OR=0.79; rs702966: pFDR=3.83 × 10−3, OR=0.82; and rs2246614: pFDR=3.83 × 10−3, OR=0.83). Significant p values were also obtained when the disease was tested globally; however, the statistical significance was lost when the ACA-positive patients were excluded from the study, suggesting that these associations rely on ACA positivity. Conditional logistic regression and allelic combination analyses suggested that the functional IRF7 SNP rs1131665 is the most likely causal variant.
The results show that variation in the IRF7 genomic region is associated with the presence of ACA in patients with SSc, supporting other evidence that this locus represents a common risk factor for autoantibody production in autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3369428  PMID: 21926187
2.  Genome-Wide Expression Analysis Reveals Diverse Effects of Acute Nicotine Exposure on Neuronal Function-Related Genes and Pathways 
Previous human and animal studies demonstrate that acute nicotine exposure has complicated influences on the function of the nervous system, which may lead to long-lasting effects on the behavior and physiology of the subject. To determine the genes and pathways that might account for long-term changes after acute nicotine exposure, a pathway-focused oligoarray specifically designed for drug addiction research was used to assess acute nicotine effect on gene expression in the neuron-like SH-SY5Y cells. Our results showed that 295 genes involved in various biological functions were differentially regulated by 1 h of nicotine treatment. Among these genes, the expression changes of 221 were blocked by mecamylamine, indicating that the majority of nicotine-modulated genes were altered through the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs)-mediated signaling process. We further identified 14 biochemical pathways enriched among the nicotine-modulated genes, among which were those involved in neural development/synaptic plasticity, neuronal survival/death, immune response, or cellular metabolism. In the genes significantly regulated by nicotine but blocked by mecamylamine, 13 enriched pathways were detected. Nine of these pathways were shared with those enriched in the genes regulated by nicotine, including neuronal function-related pathways such as glucocorticoid receptor signaling, p38 MAPK signaling, PI3K/AKT signaling, and PTEN signaling, implying that nAChRs play important roles in the regulation of these biological processes. Together, our results not only provide insights into the mechanism underlying the acute response of neuronal cells to nicotine but also provide clues to how acute nicotine exposure exerts long-term effects on the nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3089989  PMID: 21556275
nicotine; neurons; mecamylamine; gene expression; p38
3.  A Shared Y-chromosomal Heritage between Muslims and Hindus in India 
Human genetics  2006;120(4):543-551.
Arab forces conquered the Indus Delta region in 711 A.D. and, although a Muslim state was established there, their influence was barely felt in the rest of South Asia at that time. By the end of the tenth century, Central Asian Muslims moved into India from the northwest and expanded throughout the subcontinent. Muslim communities are now the largest minority religion in India, comprising more than 138 million people in a predominantly Hindu population of over one billion. It is unclear whether the Muslim expansion in India was a purely cultural phenomenon or had a genetic impact on the local population. To address this question from a male perspective, we typed eight microsatellite loci and 16 binary markers from the Y chromosome in 246 Muslims from Andhra Pradesh, and compared them to published data on 4,204 males from China, Central Asia, other parts of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. We find that the Muslim populations in general are genetically closer to their non-Muslim geographical neighbors than to other Muslims in India, and that there is a highly significant correlation between genetics and geography (but not religion). Our findings indicate that, despite the documented practice of marriage between Muslim men and Hindu women, Islamization in India did not involve large-scale replacement of Hindu Y chromosomes. The Muslim expansion in India was predominantly a cultural change and was not accompanied by significant gene flow, as seen in other places, such as China and Central Asia.
PMCID: PMC2590854  PMID: 16951948
Y-chromosomal polymorphism; India; Muslim; Hindu

Results 1-3 (3)