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1.  Candidate gene analysis supports a role for polymorphisms at TCF7L2 as risk factors for type 2 diabetes in Sudan 
Genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes (T2D) is multifactorial. A growing number of genes have been identified as risk factors for T2D across multiple ethnicities in trans-ancestry meta-analysis of large-scale genome-wide association studies. Few studies have looked at these genes in Sub-Saharan African populations. This study was undertaken to look for associations between T2D and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a number of the top candidate genes in a selected Sudanese population.
A total 240 T2D cases and 128 unrelated healthy control subjects were included in this study. Age, sex, weight and height were recorded, blood pressure and biochemical profiles of glucose and lipids were analysed. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was performed using the Sequenom MassARRAY® system. Fourteen SNPs were selected across 7 genes: CAPN10 (rs2975760 and rs5030952), PPARG (rs17036314 and rs1801282), IGF2BP2 (rs4402960 and rs1470579), CDKAL1 (rs9465871), HHEX (rs1111875), TCF7L2 (rs7903146, rs11196205 and rs12255372), and KCNJ11 (rs5215, rs1800467 and rs5219). Allelic and haplotype association analyses were performed under additive models in PLINK. P ≤ 0.007 (=0.05/7 genes) was the P-value required to achieve correction for multiple testing.
A significant genetic association between the SNPs rs7903146 (odds ratio 1.69, 95 % confidence interval 1.21–2.38, P = 0.002) and rs12255372 (odds ratio 1.70, 95 % confidence interval 1.20–2.41, P = 0.003) at TCF7L2 and T2D was found in Sudanese population. These associations were retained after adjusting for age, sex and BMI (e.g. rs7903146: odds ratio 1.70, Padj:age/sex/BMI = 0.005). The strongest haplotype association (odds ratio 2.24; Padj:age/sex/BMI = 0.0003) comprised the two point haplotype T_C across rs7903146 and rs11196205. Stepwise logistic regression demonstrated that SNP rs7903146 added significant main effects to rs11196205 or rs12255372, whereas the reverse was not true, indicating that the main effect for association with T2D in this population is most strongly tagged by SNP rs7903146. Adjusted analyses also provided support for protection from T2D associated with minor alleles at SNPs rs2975760 at CAPN10 (odds ratio 0.44, 95 % confidence interval 0.20-0.97, Padj:age/sex/BMI = 0.042) and rs1111876 at HHEX (odds ratio 0.60, 95 % confidence interval 0.39- 0.93, Padj:age/sex/BMI = 0.022).
Multiethnic associations between T2D and SNPs at TCF7L2, CAPN10 and HHEX extend to Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Sudan.
PMCID: PMC4774008  PMID: 26937418
Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Genetic polymorphism; Genetic association study; Sudan
2.  First Genome-Wide Association Study in an Australian Aboriginal Population Provides Insights into Genetic Risk Factors for Body Mass Index and Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119333.
A body mass index (BMI) >22kg/m2 is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Aboriginal Australians. To identify loci associated with BMI and T2D we undertook a genome-wide association study using 1,075,436 quality-controlled single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped (Illumina 2.5M Duo Beadchip) in 402 individuals in extended pedigrees from a Western Australian Aboriginal community. Imputation using the thousand genomes (1000G) reference panel extended the analysis to 6,724,284 post quality-control autosomal SNPs. No associations achieved genome-wide significance, commonly accepted as P<5x10-8. Nevertheless, genes/pathways in common with other ethnicities were identified despite the arrival of Aboriginal people in Australia >45,000 years ago. The top hit (rs10868204 Pgenotyped = 1.50x10-6; rs11140653 Pimputed_1000G = 2.90x10-7) for BMI lies 5’ of NTRK2, the type 2 neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that regulates energy balance downstream of melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R). PIK3C2G (rs12816270 Pgenotyped = 8.06x10-6; rs10841048 Pimputed_1000G = 6.28x10-7) was associated with BMI, but not with T2D as reported elsewhere. BMI also associated with CNTNAP2 (rs6960319 Pgenotyped = 4.65x10-5; rs13225016 Pimputed_1000G = 6.57x10-5), previously identified as the strongest gene-by-environment interaction for BMI in African-Americans. The top hit (rs11240074 Pgenotyped = 5.59x10-6, Pimputed_1000G = 5.73x10-6) for T2D lies 5’ of BCL9 that, along with TCF7L2, promotes beta-catenin’s transcriptional activity in the WNT signaling pathway. Additional hits occurred in genes affecting pancreatic (KCNJ6, KCNA1) and/or GABA (GABRR1, KCNA1) functions. Notable associations observed for genes previously identified at genome-wide significance in other populations included MC4R (Pgenotyped = 4.49x10-4) for BMI and IGF2BP2 Pimputed_1000G = 2.55x10-6) for T2D. Our results may provide novel functional leads in understanding disease pathogenesis in this Australian Aboriginal population.
PMCID: PMC4356593  PMID: 25760438
3.  Confirmation of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Variants, ARID5B and IKZF1, and Interaction with Parental Environmental Exposures 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110255.
Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have established association of ARID5B and IKZF1 variants with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Epidemiological studies suggest that environmental factors alone appear to make a relatively minor contribution to disease risk. The polygenic nature of childhood ALL predisposition together with the timing of environmental triggers may hold vital clues for disease etiology. This study presents results from an Australian GWAS of childhood ALL cases (n = 358) and population controls (n = 1192). Furthermore, we utilised family trio (n = 204) genotypes to extend our investigation to gene-environment interaction of significant loci with parental exposures before conception, and child’s sex and age. Thirteen SNPs achieved genome wide significance in the population based case/control analysis; ten annotated to ARID5B and three to IKZF1. The most significant SNPs in these regions were ARID5B rs4245595 (OR 1.63, CI 1.38–1.93, P = 2.13×10−9), and IKZF1 rs1110701 (OR 1.69, CI 1.42–2.02, p = 7.26×10−9). There was evidence of gene-environment interaction for risk genotype at IKZF1, whereby an apparently stronger genetic effect was observed if the mother took folic acid or if the father did not smoke prior to pregnancy (respective interaction P-values: 0.04, 0.05). There were no interactions of risk genotypes with age or sex (P-values >0.2). Our results evidence that interaction of genetic variants and environmental exposures may further alter risk of childhood ALL however, investigation in a larger population is required. If interaction of folic acid supplementation and IKZF1 variants holds, it may be useful to quantify folate levels prior to initiating use of folic acid supplements.
PMCID: PMC4195717  PMID: 25310577
4.  Genetic and functional evidence for a locus controlling otitis media at chromosome 10q26.3 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:18.
Otitis media (OM) is a common childhood disease characterised by middle ear effusion and inflammation. Susceptibility to recurrent acute OM and chronic OM with effusion is 40-70% heritable. Linkage studies provide evidence for multiple putative OM susceptibility loci. This study attempts to replicate these linkages in a Western Australian (WA) population, and to identify the etiological gene(s) in a replicated region.
Microsatellites were genotyped in 468 individuals from 101 multicase families (208 OM cases) from the WA Family Study of OM (WAFSOM) and non-parametric linkage analysis carried out in ALLEGRO. Association mapping utilized dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data extracted from Illumina 660 W-Quad analysis of 256 OM cases and 575 controls from the WA Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Logistic regression analysis was undertaken in ProbABEL. RT-PCR was used to compare gene expression in paired adenoid and tonsil samples, and in epithelial and macrophage cell lines. Comparative genomics methods were used to identify putative regulatory elements and transcription factor binding sites potentially affected by associated SNPs.
Evidence for linkage was observed at 10q26.3 (Zlr = 2.69; P = 0.0036; D10S1770) with borderline evidence for linkage at 10q22.3 (Zlr = 1.64; P = 0.05; D10S206). No evidence for linkage was seen at 3p25.3, 17q12, or 19q13.43. Peak association at 10q26.3 was in the intergenic region between TCERG1L and PPP2R2D (rs7922424; P = 9.47 × 10-6), immediately under the peak of linkage. Independent associations were observed at DOCK1 (rs9418832; P = 7.48 × 10-5) and ADAM12 (rs7902734; P = 8.04 × 10-4). RT-PCR analysis confirmed expression of all 4 genes in adenoid samples. ADAM12, DOCK1 and PPP2R2D, but not TCERG1L, were expressed in respiratory epithelial and macrophage cell lines. A significantly associated polymorphism (rs7087384) in strong LD with the top SNP (rs7922424; r2 = 0.97) alters a transcription factor binding site (CREB/CREBP) in the intergenic region between TCERG1L and PPP2R2D.
OM linkage was replicated at 10q26.3. Whilst multiple genes could contribute to this linkage, the weight of evidence supports PPP2R2D, a TGF-β/Activin/Nodal pathway modulator, as the more likely functional candidate lying immediately under the linkage peak for OM susceptibility at chromosome 10q26.3.
PMCID: PMC3926687  PMID: 24499112
Acute otitis media; Otitis media with effusion; Genetic polymorphisms; Linkage; Association; Raine study; WAFSOM; Australia
5.  Wound healing genes and susceptibility to cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil 
Infection, Genetics and Evolution  2012;12(5):1102-1110.
Leishmania braziliensis causes cutaneous (CL) and mucosal (ML) leishmaniasis. In the mouse, Fli1 was identified as a gene influencing enhanced wound healing and resistance to CL caused by L. major. Polymorphism at FLI1 is associated with CL caused by L. braziliensis in humans, with an inverse association observed for ML disease. Here we extend the analysis to look at other wound healing genes, including CTGF, TGFB1, TGFBR1/2, SMADS 2/3/4/7 and FLII, all functionally linked along with FLI1 in the TGF beta pathway. Haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tag-SNPs) were genotyped using Taqman technology in 325 nuclear families (652 CL cases; 126 ML cases) from Brazil. Robust case-pseudocontrol (CPC) conditional logistic regression analysis showed associations between CL and SNPs at CTGF (SNP rs6918698; CC genotype; OR 1.67; 95%CI 1.10–2.54; P=0.016), TGFBR2 (rs1962859; OR 1.50; 95%CI 1.12–1.99; P=0.005), SMAD2 (rs1792658; OR 1.57; 95%CI 1.04–2.38; P=0.03), SMAD7 (rs4464148; AA genotype; OR 2.80; 95%CI 1.00–7.87; P=0.05) and FLII (rs2071242; OR 1.60; 95%CI 1.14–2.24; P=0.005), and between ML and SNPs at SMAD3 (rs1465841; OR 2.15; 95%CI 1.13–4.07; P=0.018) and SMAD7 (rs2337107; TT genotype; OR 3.70; 95%CI 1.27–10.7; P=0.016). Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that all SNPs associated with CL at FLI1, CTGF, TGFBR2, and FLII showed independent effects from each other, but SNPs at SMAD2 and SMAD7 did not add independent effects to SNPs from other genes. These results suggest that TGFβ signalling via SMAD2 is important in directing events that contribute to CL, whereas signalling via SMAD3 is important in ML. Both are modulated by the inhibitory SMAD7 that acts upstream of SMAD2 and SMAD3 in this signalling pathway. Along with the published FLI1 association, these data further contribute to the hypothesis that wound healing processes are important determinants of pathology associated with cutaneous forms of leishmaniasis.
PMCID: PMC3372530  PMID: 22554650
leishmaniasis; wound healing; TGFB pathway; CTGF; SMADs; FLII; FLI1
6.  Genome-Wide Association Study to Identify the Genetic Determinants of Otitis Media Susceptibility in Childhood 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48215.
Otitis media (OM) is a common childhood disease characterised by middle ear inflammation and effusion. Susceptibility to recurrent acute OM (rAOM; ≥3 episodes of AOM in 6 months) and chronic OM with effusion (COME; MEE ≥3 months) is 40–70% heritable. Few underlying genes have been identified to date, and no genome-wide association study (GWAS) of OM has been reported.
Methods and Findings
Data for 2,524,817 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; 535,544 quality-controlled SNPs genotyped by Illumina 660W-Quad; 1,989,273 by imputation) were analysed for association with OM in 416 cases and 1,075 controls from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Logistic regression analyses under an additive model undertaken in GenABEL/ProbABEL adjusting for population substructure using principal components identified SNPs at CAPN14 (rs6755194: OR = 1.90; 95%CI 1.47–2.45; Padj-PCA = 8.3×10−7) on chromosome 2p23.1 as the top hit, with independent effects (rs1862981: OR = 1.60; 95%CI 1.29–1.99; Padj-PCA = 2.2×10−5) observed at the adjacent GALNT14 gene. In a gene-based analysis in VEGAS, BPIFA3 (PGene = 2×10−5) and BPIFA1 (PGene = 1.07×10−4) in the BPIFA gene cluster on chromosome 20q11.21 were the top hits. In all, 32 genomic regions show evidence of association (Padj-PCA<10−5) in this GWAS, with pathway analysis showing a connection between top candidates and the TGFβ pathway. However, top and tag-SNP analysis for seven selected candidate genes in this pathway did not replicate in 645 families (793 affected individuals) from the Western Australian Family Study of Otitis Media (WAFSOM). Lack of replication may be explained by sample size, difference in OM disease severity between primary and replication cohorts or due to type I error in the primary GWAS.
This first discovery GWAS for an OM phenotype has identified CAPN14 and GALNT14 on chromosome 2p23.1 and the BPIFA gene cluster on chromosome 20q11.21 as novel candidate genes which warrant further analysis in cohorts matched more precisely for clinical phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3485007  PMID: 23133572
7.  Statistical adjustment of genotyping error in a case–control study of childhood leukaemia 
Genotyping has become more cost-effective and less invasive with the use of buccal cell sampling. However, low or fragmented DNA yields from buccal cells collected using FTA cards often requires additional whole genome amplification to produce sufficient DNA for genotyping. In our case–control study of childhood leukaemia, discordance was found between genotypes derived from blood and whole genome amplified FTA buccal DNA samples. We aimed to develop a user-friendly method to correct for this genotype misclassification, as existing methods were not suitable for use in our study.
Discordance between the results of blood and buccal-derived DNA was assessed in childhood leukaemia cases who had both blood and FTA buccal samples. A method based on applying misclassification probabilities to measured data and combining results using multiple imputations, was devised to correct for error in the genotypes of control subjects, for whom only buccal samples were available, to minimize bias in the odds ratios in the case–control analysis.
Application of the correction method to synthetic datasets showed it was effective in producing correct odds ratios from data with known misclassification. Moreover, when applied to each of six bi-allelic loci, correction altered the odds ratios in the logically anticipated manner given the degree and direction of the misclassification revealed by the investigations in cases. The precision of the effect estimates decreased with decreasing size of the misclassification data set.
Bias arising from differential genotype misclassification can be reduced by correcting results using this method whenever data on concordance of genotyping results with those from a different and probably better DNA source are available.
PMCID: PMC3514307  PMID: 22970889
Biostatistics; DNA; Genotype; Measurement error; Quality control; Whole genome amplification
8.  Genetic and Functional Evidence Implicating DLL1 as the Gene That Influences Susceptibility to Visceral Leishmaniasis at Chromosome 6q27 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(3):467-477.
Background. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is caused by Leishmania donovani and Leishmania infantum chagasi. Genome-wide linkage studies from Sudan and Brazil identified a putative susceptibility locus on chromosome 6q27.
Methods. Twenty-two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at genes PHF10, C6orf70, DLL1, FAM120B, PSMB1, and TBP were genotyped in 193 VL cases from 85 Sudanese families, and 8 SNPs at genes PHF10, C6orf70, DLL1, PSMB1, and TBP were genotyped in 194 VL cases from 80 Brazilian families. Family-based association, haplotype, and linkage disequilibrium analyses were performed. Multispecies comparative sequence analysis was used to identify conserved noncoding sequences carrying putative regulatory elements. Quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction measured expression of candidate genes in splenic aspirates from Indian patients with VL compared with that in the control spleen sample.
Results. Positive associations were observed at PHF10, C6orf70, DLL1, PSMB1, and TBP in Sudan, but only at DLL1 in Brazil (combined P = 3 × 10−4 at DLL1 across Sudan and Brazil). No functional coding region variants were observed in resequencing of 22 Sudanese VL cases. DLL1 expression was significantly (P = 2 × 10−7) reduced (mean fold change, 3.5 [SEM, 0.7]) in splenic aspirates from patients with VL, whereas other 6q27 genes showed higher levels (1.27 × 10−6 < P < .01) than did the control spleen sample. A cluster of conserved noncoding sequences with putative regulatory variants was identified in the distal promoter of DLL1.
Conclusions. DLL1, which encodes Delta-like 1, the ligand for Notch3, is strongly implicated as the chromosome 6q27 VL susceptibility gene.
PMCID: PMC3132144  PMID: 21742847
9.  Genetic and functional evaluation of the role of CXCR1 and CXCR2 in susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis in north-east India 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:162.
IL8RA and IL8RB, encoded by CXCR1 and CXCR2, are receptors for interleukin (IL)-8 and other CXC chemokines involved in chemotaxis and activation of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN). Variants at CXCR1 and CXCR2 have been associated with susceptibility to cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil. Here we investigate the role of CXCR1/CXCR2 in visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in India.
Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs4674259, rs2234671, rs3138060) that tag linkage disequilibrium blocks across CXCR1/CXCR2 were genotyped in primary family-based (313 cases; 176 nuclear families; 836 individuals) and replication (941 cases; 992 controls) samples. Family- and population-based analyses were performed to look for association between CXCR1/CXCR2 variants and VL. Quantitative RT/PCR was used to compare CXCR1/CXCR2 expression in mRNA from paired splenic aspirates taken before and after treatment from 19 VL patients.
Family-based analysis using FBAT showed association between VL and SNPs CXCR1_rs2234671 (Z-score = 2.935, P = 0.003) and CXCR1_rs3138060 (Z-score = 2.22, P = 0.026), but not with CXCR2_rs4674259. Logistic regression analysis of the case-control data under an additive model of inheritance showed association between VL and SNPs CXCR2_rs4674259 (OR = 1.15, 95%CI = 1.01-1.31, P = 0.027) and CXCR1_rs3138060 (OR = 1.25, 95%CI = 1.02-1.53, P = 0.028), but not with CXCR1_rs2234671. The 3-locus haplotype T_G_C across these SNPs was shown to be the risk haplotype in both family- (TRANSMIT; P = 0.014) and population- (OR = 1.16, P = 0.028) samples (combined P = 0.002). CXCR2, but not CXCR1, expression was down regulated in pre-treatment compared to post-treatment splenic aspirates (P = 0.021).
This well-powered primary and replication genetic study, together with functional analysis of gene expression, implicate CXCR2 in determining outcome of VL in India.
PMCID: PMC3260103  PMID: 22171941
10.  The -2518 bp promoter polymorphism at CCL2/MCP1 influences susceptibility to mucosal but not localized cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil 
Mucosal leishmaniasis (ML) follows localized cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) caused by Leishmania braziliensis. Proinflammatory responses mediate CL self-healing but are exaggerated in ML. Proinflammatory monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1; encoded by CCL2) is associated with CL. We explore its role in CL/ML through analysis of the regulatory CCL2 -2518bp promoter polymorphism in CL/ML population samples and families from Brazil. Genotype frequencies were compared among ML/CL cases and control groups using logistic regression and the family-based association test (FBAT). MCP-1 was measured in plasma and macrophages. The GG recessive genotype at CCL2 -2518bp was more common in patients with ML (N=67) than in neighborhood control (NC; N=60) subjects (OR 1.78; 95% CI 1.01–3.14; P=0.045), than in NC combined with leishmanin skin-test positive (N=60) controls (OR 4.40; 95% CI 1.42–13.65; P=0.010), and than in controls combined with CL (N=60) patients (OR 2.78; 95% CI 1.13–6.85; P=0.045). No associations were observed for CL compared to any groups. FBAT (91 ML and 223 CL cases in families) confirmed recessive association of ML with allele G (Z=2.679; P=0.007). Higher levels of MCP-1 occurred in plasma (P=0.03) and macrophages (P<0.0001) from GG compared to AA individuals. These results suggest that high MCP-1 increases risk of ML.
PMCID: PMC2878927  PMID: 20430117
Mucosal leishmaniasis; genetic association; MCP-1; CCL2
11.  P2X7 receptor-mediated killing of an intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, by human and murine macrophages1 
The P2X7 receptor (P2X7R)4 is highly expressed on the macrophage cell surface and activation of infected cells by extracellular ATP has been shown to kill intracellular bacteria and parasites. Furthermore, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that decrease receptor function reduce the ability of human macrophages to kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis and are associated with extrapulmonary tuberculosis. In this paper we show that macrophages from people with the 1513C (rs3751143) loss-of-function P2X7R SNP are less effective in killing intracellular Toxoplasma gondii after exposure to ATP compared with macrophages from people with the 1513A wild-type allele. Supporting a P2X7R-specific effect on T. gondii, macrophages from P2X7R knock-out mice (P2X7R−/−) are unable to kill T. gondii as effectively as macrophages from wild-type mice. We show that P2X7R-mediated T. gondii killing occurs in parallel with host cell apoptosis and is independent of NO production.
PMCID: PMC2931343  PMID: 20488797
12.  No evidence for association between SLC11A1 and visceral leishmaniasis in India 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:71.
SLC11A1 has pleiotropic effects on macrophage function and remains a strong candidate for infectious disease susceptibility. 5' and/or 3' polymorphisms have been associated with tuberculosis, leprosy, and visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Most studies undertaken to date were under-powered, and none has been replicated within a population. Association with tuberculosis has replicated variably across populations. Here we investigate SLC11A1 and VL in India.
Nine polymorphisms (rs34448891, rs7573065, rs2276631, rs3731865, rs17221959, rs2279015, rs17235409, rs17235416, rs17229009) that tag linkage disequilibrium blocks across SLC11A1 were genotyped in primary family-based (313 cases; 176 families) and replication (941 cases; 992 controls) samples. Family- and population-based analyses were performed to look for association between SLC11A1 variants and VL. Quantitative RT/PCR was used to compare SLC11A1 expression in mRNA from paired splenic aspirates taken before and after treatment from 24 VL patients carrying different genotypes at the functional promoter GTn polymorphism (rs34448891).
No associations were observed between VL and polymorphisms at SLC11A1 that were either robust to correction for multiple testing or replicated across primary and replication samples. No differences in expression of SLC11A1 were observed when comparing pre- and post-treatment samples, or between individuals carrying different genotypes at the GTn repeat.
This is the first well-powered study of SLC11A1 as a candidate for VL, which we conclude does not have a major role in regulating VL susceptibility in India.
PMCID: PMC3128845  PMID: 21599885
SLC11A1; visceral leishmaniasis; genetic susceptibility
13.  Evidence for associations between the purinergic receptor P2X7 (P2RX7) and toxoplasmosis 
Genes and immunity  2010;11(5):374-383.
Congenital Toxoplasma gondii infection can result in intracranial calcification, hydrocephalus, and retinochoroiditis. Acquired infection is commonly associated with ocular disease. Pathology is characterized by strong pro-inflammatory responses. Ligation of ATP by purinergic receptor P2X7, encoded by P2RX7, stimulates pro-inflammatory cytokines and can lead directly to killing of intracellular pathogens. To determine whether P2X7 plays a role in susceptibility to congenital toxoplasmosis, we examined polymorphisms at P2RX7 in 149 child/parent trios from North America. We found association (FBAT Z scores ±2.429; P= 0.015) between the derived C(+)G(−) allele (f= 0.68; OR= 2.06; 95% CI: 1.14–3.75) at SNP rs1718119 (1068T>C; Thr-348-Ala), and a second synonymous variant rs1621388 in linkage disequilibrium with it, and clinical signs of disease per se. Analysis of clinical sub-groups showed no association with hydrocephalus, with effect sizes for associations with retinal disease and brain calcifications enhanced (OR=3.0 to 4.25; 0.004
PMCID: PMC2908187  PMID: 20535134
Toxoplasmosis; genetic polymorphisms; purinergic receptor P2X7; North America; Brazil
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2009;22(2):370-385.
Summary: Following their discovery in the early 1970s, classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci have been the prototypical candidates for genetic susceptibility to infectious disease. Indeed, the original hypothesis for the extreme variability observed at HLA loci (H-2 in mice) was the major selective pressure from infectious diseases. Now that both the human genome and the molecular basis of innate and acquired immunity are understood in greater detail, do the classical HLA loci still stand out as major genes that determine susceptibility to infectious disease? This review looks afresh at the evidence supporting a role for classical HLA loci in susceptibility to infectious disease, examines the limitations of data reported to date, and discusses current advances in methodology and technology that will potentially lead to greater understanding of their role in infectious diseases in the future.
PMCID: PMC2668228  PMID: 19366919
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:10.
L. braziliensis causes cutaneous (CL) and mucosal (ML) leishmaniasis. Wound healing neutrophil (PMN) and macrophage responses made following the bite of the vector sand fly contribute to disease progression in mice. To look at the interplay between PMN and macrophages in disease progression in humans we asked whether polymorphisms at genes that regulate their infiltration or function are associated with different clinical phenotypes. Specifically, CXCR1 (IL8RA) and CXCR2 (IL8RB) are receptors for chemokines that attract PMN to inflammatory sites. They lie 30-260 kb upstream of SLC11A1, a gene known primarily for its role in regulating macrophage activation, resistance to leishmaniasis, and wound healing responses in mice, but also known to be expressed in PMN, macrophages and dendritic cells.
Polymorphic variants at CXCR1, CXCR2 and SLC11A1 were analysed using Taqman or ABI fragment separation technologies in cases (60 CL; 60 ML), unrelated controls (n = 120), and multicase families (104 nuclear families; 88 ML, 250 CL cases) from Brazil. Logistic regression analysis, family-based association testing (FBAT) and haplotype analysis (TRANSMIT) were performed.
Case-control analysis showed association between the common C allele (OR 2.38; 95% CI 1.23-4.57; P = 0.009) of CXCR1_rs2854386 and CL, supported by family-based (FBAT; Z score 2.002; P = 0.045) analysis (104 nuclear families; 88 ML, 250 CL cases). ML associated with the rarer G allele (Z score 1.999; P = 0.046). CL associated with a 3' insertion/deletion polymorphism at SLC11A1 (Z score 2.549; P = 0.011).
The study supports roles for CXCR1 and SLC11A1 in the outcome of L. braziliensis infection in humans. Slc11a1 does not influence cutaneous lesion development following needle injection of Leishmania in mice, suggesting that its role here might relate to the action of PMN, macrophage and/or dendritic cells in the wound healing response to the sand fly bite. Together with the CXCR1 association, the data are consistent with hypotheses relating to the possible role of PMN in initiation of a lesion following the delivery of parasites via the sand fly bite. Association of ML with the rare derived G allele suggests that PMN also have an important positive role to play in preventing this form of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2823618  PMID: 20089160
Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  2009;104(2):162-169.
Analysing human genetic variation provides a powerful tool in understanding risk factors for disease. Toxoplasma gondii acquired by the mother can be transmitted to the fetus. Infants with the most severe clinical signs in brain and eye are those infected early in pregnancy when fetal immunity is least well developed. Genetic analysis could provide unique insight into events in utero that are otherwise difficult to determine. We tested the hypothesis that propensity for T. gondii to cause eye disease is associated with genes previously implicated in congenital or juvenile onset ocular disease. Using mother-child pairs from Europe (EMSCOT) and child/parent trios from North America (NCCCTS), we demonstrated that ocular and brain disease in congenital toxoplasmosis associate with polymorphisms in ABCA4 encoding ATP-binding cassette transporter, subfamily A, member 4 previously associated with juvenile onset retinal dystrophies including Stargardt's disease. Polymorphisms at COL2A1 encoding type II collagen, previously associated with Stickler syndrome, associated only with ocular disease in congenital toxoplasmosis. Experimental studies showed that both ABCA4 and COL2A1 show isoform-specific epigenetic modifications consistent with imprinting, which provided an explanation for the patterns of inheritance observed. These genetic and epigenetic risk factors provide unique insight into molecular pathways in the pathogenesis of disease.
PMCID: PMC2735098  PMID: 19430638
congenital infection; toxoplasmosis; genetics; epigenetics
Genes and immunity  2007;8(7):539-551.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) caused by Leishmania chagasi is endemic to northeast Brazil. A positive delayed-type hypersensitivity skin test response (DTH+) is a marker for acquired resistance to disease, clusters in families, and may be genetically controlled. Twenty-three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in the cytokine 5q23.3-q31.1 region IRF1-IL5-IL13-IL4-IL9-LECT2-TGFBI in 102 families (323 DTH+; 190 DTH−; 123 VL individuals) from a VL endemic region in northeast Brazil. Data from 20 SNPs were analysed for association with DTH+/− status and VL using family-based, stepwise conditional logistic regression analysis. Independent associations were observed between the DTH+ phenotype and markers in separate linkage disequilibrium blocks in LECT2 (OR 2.25; P=0.005; 95% CI=1.28-3.97) and TGFBI (OR 1.94; P=0.003; 95% CI=1.24-3.03). VL child/parent trios gave no evidence of linkage and association, but the DTH− phenotype was associated with SNP rs2070874 at IL4 (OR 3.14; P=0.006; 95% CI=1.38-7.14), and SNP rs30740 between LECT2 and TGFBI (OR 3.00; P=0.042; 95% CI=1.04-8.65). These results indicate several genes in the immune response gene cluster at 5q23.3-q31.1 influence outcomes of L. chagasi infection in this region of Brazil.
PMCID: PMC2435172  PMID: 17713557
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2285.
Primary Toxoplasma gondii infection during pregnancy can be transmitted to the fetus. At birth, infected infants may have intracranial calcification, hydrocephalus, and retinochoroiditis, and new ocular lesions can occur at any age after birth. Not all children who acquire infection in utero develop these clinical signs of disease. Whilst severity of disease is influenced by trimester in which infection is acquired by the mother, other factors including genetic predisposition may contribute.
Methods and Findings
In 457 mother-child pairs from Europe, and 149 child/parent trios from North America, we show that ocular and brain disease in congenital toxoplasmosis associate with polymorphisms in ABCA4 encoding ATP-binding cassette transporter, subfamily A, member 4. Polymorphisms at COL2A1 encoding type II collagen associate only with ocular disease. Both loci showed unusual inheritance patterns for the disease allele when comparing outcomes in heterozygous affected children with outcomes in affected children of heterozygous mothers. Modeling suggested either an effect of mother's genotype, or parent-of-origin effects. Experimental studies showed that both ABCA4 and COL2A1 show isoform-specific epigenetic modifications consistent with imprinting.
These associations between clinical outcomes of congenital toxoplasmosis and polymorphisms at ABCA4 and COL2A1 provide novel insight into the molecular pathways that can be affected by congenital infection with this parasite.
PMCID: PMC2390765  PMID: 18523590
The Lancet infectious diseases  2006;6(10):653-663.
Genetic epidemiology, including twin studies, provides robust evidence that genetic variation in human populations contributes to susceptibility to infectious disease. One of the major limitations of studies to date that attempt to identify the genes and mechanisms underlying this susceptibility has been lack of power due to small sample size. With the development of novel technologies, burgeoning information on the human genome, the HapMap project, and human genetic diversity, we are at the beginning of a new era in the study of genetics of complex diseases. This review looks afresh at the epidemiological evidence supporting a role for genetics in susceptibility to infectious disease, examines the somewhat limited achievements to date, and discusses current advances in methodology and technology that will potentially lead to translational data in the future.
PMCID: PMC2330096  PMID: 17008174
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(5):e71.
Familial clustering and ethnic differences suggest that visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania donovani is under genetic control. A recent genome scan provided evidence for a major susceptibility gene on Chromosome 22q12 in the Aringa ethnic group in Sudan. We now report a genome-wide scan using 69 families with 173 affected relatives from two villages occupied by the related Masalit ethnic group. A primary ten-centimorgan scan followed by refined mapping provided evidence for major loci at 1p22 (LOD score 5.65; nominal p = 1.72 × 10−7; empirical p < 1 × 10−5; λS = 5.1) and 6q27 (LOD score 3.74; nominal p = 1.68 × 10−5; empirical p < 1 × 10−4; λS = 2.3) that were Y chromosome–lineage and village-specific. Neither village supported a visceral leishmaniasis susceptibility gene on 22q12. The results suggest strong lineage-specific genes due to founder effect and consanguinity in these recently immigrant populations. These chance events in ethnically uniform African populations provide a powerful resource in the search for genes and mechanisms that regulate this complex disease.
Author Summary
The parasitic disease kala-azar, or visceral leishmaniasis, is associated with liver, spleen, and lymph gland enlargement, as well as fever, weight loss, and anaemia. It is fatal unless treated. Three major foci of disease occur in India, Sudan, and Brazil. Importantly, 80%–90% of infections are asymptomatic. Understanding why two people with the same exposure to infection differ in susceptibility could provide important leads for improved therapies. We studied families with multiple cases of clinical disease from two villages in Sudan. After typing 300–400 genetic markers across the human genome, we determined which chromosomes carry susceptibility genes. We were surprised that our results differed from those published earlier for a village 100 kilometers from our site. All of these villages are occupied by people of the same ethnic group who migrated from western Sudan late last century following a major drought. We stratified our analysis by village, and used male Y chromosome markers to tag extended pedigrees. Our results suggest that recent immigration, in combination with consanguineal marriage in a strongly patriarchal society, has amplified founder effects resulting in different lineages within each village carrying different susceptibility loci. This demonstrates the importance of understanding population genetic substructure in studying genes that regulate complex disease.
PMCID: PMC1866354  PMID: 17500593
The Lancet Infectious Diseases  2006;6(10):653-663.
Genetic epidemiology, including twin studies, provides robust evidence that genetic variation in human populations contributes to susceptibility to infectious disease. One of the major limitations of studies that attempt to identify the genes and mechanisms that underlie this susceptibility has been lack of power caused by small sample size. With the development of novel technologies, burgeoning information on the human genome, the HapMap project, and human genetic diversity, we are at the beginning of a new era in the study of the genetics of complex diseases. This review looks afresh at the epidemiological evidence that supports a role for genetics in susceptibility to infectious disease, examines the somewhat limited achievements to date, and discusses current advances in methodology and technology that will potentially lead to translational data in the future.
PMCID: PMC2330096  PMID: 17008174

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