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1.  Asthma-susceptibility variants identified using probands in case-control and family-based analyses 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:122.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease whose genetic basis has been explored for over two decades, most recently via genome-wide association studies. We sought to find asthma-susceptibility variants by using probands from a single population in both family-based and case-control association designs.
We used probands from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) in two primary genome-wide association study designs: (1) probands were combined with publicly available population controls in a case-control design, and (2) probands and their parents were used in a family-based design. We followed a two-stage replication process utilizing three independent populations to validate our primary findings.
We found that single nucleotide polymorphisms with similar case-control and family-based association results were more likely to replicate in the independent populations, than those with the smallest p-values in either the case-control or family-based design alone. The single nucleotide polymorphism that showed the strongest evidence for association to asthma was rs17572584, which replicated in 2/3 independent populations with an overall p-value among replication populations of 3.5E-05. This variant is near a gene that encodes an enzyme that has been implicated to act coordinately with modulators of Th2 cell differentiation and is expressed in human lung.
Our results suggest that using probands from family-based studies in case-control designs, and combining results of both family-based and case-control approaches, may be a way to augment our ability to find SNPs associated with asthma and other complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC2927535  PMID: 20698975
2.  Estradiol suppresses NF-κB activation through coordinated regulation of let-7a and miR-125b in primary human macrophages 
Previous findings suggest that estradiol has a suppressive effect on TNF-α, but the mechanism by which estradiol regulates TNF-α expression in primary human macrophages is unknown. Herein, we demonstrate that pretreatment of human macrophages with estradiol attenuates LPS-induced TNF-α expression through suppression of NF-κB activation. Furthermore, we show that activation of macrophages with LPS decreases expression of κB-Ras2, an inhibitor of NF-κB signaling. Estradiol pre-treatment abrogates this decrease, leading to enhanced expression of κB-Ras2 with LPS stimulation. Additionally, we have identified two miRNAs, let-7a and miR-125b, that target the κB-Ras2 3′UTR. LPS induces let-7a and inhibits miR-125b expression in human macrophages and pre-treatment with estradiol abrogates these effects. 3′UTR reporter assays demonstrate that let-7a destabilizes the κB-Ras2 3′UTR while miR-125b enhances its stability, resulting in decreased κB-Ras2 in response to LPS. Our data suggest that pre-treatment with estradiol reverses this effect. We propose a novel mechanism for estradiol inhibition of LPS-induced NF-κB signaling in which κB-Ras2 expression is induced by estradiol via regulation of let-7a and miR-125b. These findings are significant in that they are the first to demonstrate that estradiol represses NF-κB activation through induction of κB-Ras2, a key inhibitor of NF-κB signaling.
This is an author-produced version of a manuscript accepted for publication in The Journal of Immunology (The JI). The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. (AAI), publisher of The JI, holds the copyright to this manuscript. This version of the manuscript has not yet been copyedited or subjected to editorial proofreading by The JI; hence, it may differ from the final version published in The JI (online and in print). AAI (The JI) is not liable for errors or omissions in this author-produced version of the manuscript or in any version derived from it by the U.S. National Institutes of Health or any other third party. The final, citable version of record can be found at
PMCID: PMC2882792  PMID: 20351193
3.  A Role for Wnt Signaling Genes in the Pathogenesis of Impaired Lung Function in Asthma 
Rationale: Animal models demonstrate that aberrant gene expression in utero can result in abnormal pulmonary phenotypes.
Objectives: We sought to identify genes that are differentially expressed during in utero airway development and test the hypothesis that variants in these genes influence lung function in patients with asthma.
Methods: Stage 1 (Gene Expression): Differential gene expression analysis across the pseudoglandular (n = 27) and canalicular (n = 9) stages of human lung development was performed using regularized t tests with multiple comparison adjustments. Stage 2 (Genetic Association): Genetic association analyses of lung function (FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC) for variants in five differentially expressed genes were conducted in 403 parent-child trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). Associations were replicated in 583 parent-child trios from the Genetics of Asthma in Costa Rica study.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,776 differentially expressed genes between the pseudoglandular (gestational age: 7–16 wk) and the canalicular (gestational age: 17–26 wk) stages, we selected 5 genes in the Wnt pathway for association testing. Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms in three genes demonstrated association with lung function in CAMP (P < 0.05), and associations for two of these genes were replicated in the Costa Ricans: Wnt1-inducible signaling pathway protein 1 with FEV1 (combined P = 0.0005) and FVC (combined P = 0.0004), and Wnt inhibitory factor 1 with FVC (combined P = 0.003) and FEV1/FVC (combined P = 0.003).
Conclusions: Wnt signaling genes are associated with impaired lung function in two childhood asthma cohorts. Furthermore, gene expression profiling of human fetal lung development can be used to identify genes implicated in the pathogenesis of lung function impairment in individuals with asthma.
PMCID: PMC2822972  PMID: 19926868
asthma; lung development; lung function; genetic variation; gene expression
4.  Clinical Predictors and Outcomes of Consistent Bronchodilator Response in the Childhood Asthma Management Program 
Among asthmatics, bronchodilator response (BDR) to inhaled ß2- adrenergic agonists is variable, and the significance of a consistent response over time is unknown.
We assessed baseline clinical variables and determined the clinical outcomes associated with a consistently positive BDR over 4 years in children with mild-moderate persistent asthma.
In the 1,041 participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), subjects with a change in FEV1 of 12% or greater (and 200mLs) after inhaled ß2 agonist at each of their yearly follow-up visits (consistent BDR) were compared with those who did not have a consistent BDR.
We identified 52 children with consistent BDR over the 4-year trial. Multivariable logistic regression modeling demonstrated that baseline pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (OR=0.71, p<0.0001), log 10 IgE level (OR=1.97, p=0.002), and lack of treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (OR=0.31, p=0.009) were associated with a consistent BDR. Individuals who had a consistent BDR had more hospital visits (p=0.007), required more prednisone bursts (p=0.0007), had increased nocturnal awakenings due to asthma (p<0.0001), and missed more days of school (p=0.03) than non-responders during the 4-year follow-up.
We have identified predictors of consistent BDR and determined that this phenotype is associated with poor clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2947830  PMID: 18848350
asthma; consistent bronchodilator response; outcomes
5.  Functional Expression of Pattern Recognition Receptors in Tissues of the Human Female Reproductive Tract 
The human female reproductive tract (FRT) must balance the requirements of procreation with the demands of protection from pathogen invasion. We hypothesize that the FRT expresses functional pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), including Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD) proteins that may mediate these tasks. Expression of PRRs was evaluated in FRT tissues by RT-PCR. PRR function within FRT tissue cells was determined by CXCL8 (IL-8) production in response to treatment with PRR agonists. We now report that TLRs 7–9 are expressed in Fallopian tube, uterine endometrium, cervix and ectocervix, while TLR10 expression is restricted to Fallopian tube. NOD1 and NOD2 and the signal transducer RICK were detected in all FRT tissues. Stimulation of FRT tissue cells with PRR ligands resulted in secretion of CXCL8. Results of these studies indicate that PRR are functionally expressed in FRT tissues, and suggest that these receptors mediate microbial recognition and immune defense in the reproductive tract.
PMCID: PMC2744441  PMID: 19406482
Human; Female; Reproductive; TLR; NOD
6.  Variants in TGFB1, Dust Mite Exposure, and Disease Severity in Children with Asthma 
Rationale: Polymorphisms in the gene for transforming growth factor-β1 (TGFB1) have been associated with asthma, but not with airway responsiveness or disease exacerbations in subjects with asthma.
Objectives: To test for association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TGFB1 and markers of asthma severity in childhood.
Methods: We tested for the association between nine SNPs in TGFB1 and indicators of asthma severity (lung function, airway responsiveness, and disease exacerbations) in two cohorts: 416 Costa Rican parent-child trios and 465 families of non-Hispanic white children in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). We also tested for the interaction between these polymorphisms and exposure to dust mite allergen on asthma severity.
Measurements and Main Results: The A allele of promoter SNP rs2241712 was associated with increased airway responsiveness in Costa Rica (P = 0.0006) and CAMP (P = 0.005), and the C allele of an SNP in the promoter region (rs1800469) was associated with increased airway responsiveness in both cohorts (P ≤ 0.01). Dust mite exposure modified the effect of the C allele of exonic SNP rs1800471 on airway responsiveness (P = 0.03 for interactions in both cohorts). The T allele of a coding SNP (rs1982073) was associated with a reduced risk of asthma exacerbations in Costa Rica (P = 0.009) and CAMP (P = 0.005). Dust mite exposure also significantly modified the effect of the A allele of the promoter SNP rs2241712 on asthma exacerbations in both cohorts.
Conclusions: SNPs in TGFB1 are associated with airway responsiveness and disease exacerbations in children with asthma. Moreover, dust mite exposure may modify the effect of TGFB1 SNPs on airway responsiveness and asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC2648908  PMID: 19096005
airway responsiveness; asthma; dust mite allergen; single nucleotide polymorphisms; transforming growth factor-β1
7.  Estradiol Regulates Expression of Estrogen Receptor ERα46 in Human Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5539.
Monocytes and macrophages are key innate immune effector cells that produce cytokines and chemokines upon activation. We and others have shown that 17β-estradiol (E2) has a direct role in the modulation of monocyte and macrophage immune function. However, relatively little is known about the ability of E2 to regulate isoform expression of estrogen receptors (ERs) in these cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we quantify expression of ERα and ERβ in human monocytes and macrophages. We also show for the first time that the N-terminal truncated ERα variant, ERα46, is expressed in both cell types. Promoter utilization studies reveal that transcription of ERα in both cell types occurs from upstream promoters E and F. Treatment with E2 induces ERα expression in macrophages but has no effect on ERβ levels in either cell type. During monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation, ERα is upregulated in a time-dependent manner. Previous studies by our group demonstrated that E2 treatment attenuates production of the chemokine CXCL8 in an ER-dependent manner. We now show that ERα expression levels parallel the ability of E2 to suppress CXCL8 production.
This work demonstrates for the first time that human macrophages predominantly express the truncated ER variant ERαp46, which is estradiol-inducible. This is mediated through usage of the ERα F promoter. Alternative promoter usage may account for tissue and cell type-specific differences in estradiol-induced effects on gene expression. These studies signify the importance of ERα expression and regulation in the ability of E2 to modulate innate immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2678254  PMID: 19440537
8.  Comprehensive Testing of Positionally Cloned Asthma Genes in Two Populations 
Rationale: Replication of gene-disease associations has become a requirement in complex trait genetics.
Objectives: In studies of childhood asthma from two different ethnic groups, we attempted to replicate associations with five potential asthma susceptibility genes previously identified by positional cloning.
Methods: We analyzed two family-based samples ascertained through an asthmatic proband: 497 European-American children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program and 439 Hispanic children from the Central Valley of Costa Rica. We genotyped 98 linkage disequilibrium–tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in five genes: ADAM33, DPP10, GPR154 (HUGO name: NPSR1), HLA-G, and the PHF11 locus (includes genes SETDB2 and RCBTB1). SNPs were tested for association with asthma and two intermediate phenotypes: airway hyperresponsiveness and total serum immunoglobulin E levels.
Measurements and Main Results: Despite differing ancestries, linkage disequilibrium patterns were similar in both cohorts. Of the five evaluated genes, SNP-level replication was found only for GPR154 (NPSR1). In this gene, three SNPs were associated with asthma in both cohorts, although the opposite alleles were associated in either study. Weak evidence for locus-level replication with asthma was found in the PHF11 locus, although there was no overlap in the associated SNP across the two cohorts. No consistent associations were observed for the three other genes.
Conclusions: These results provide some further support for the role of genetic variation in GPR154 (NPSR1) and PHF11 in asthma susceptibility and also highlight the challenges of replicating genetic associations in complex traits such as asthma, even for genes identified by linkage analysis.
PMCID: PMC2048676  PMID: 17702965
bronchial hyperreactivity; immunoglobulin E; linkage disequilibrium; NPSR1; single-nucleotide polymorphism

Results 1-8 (8)