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1.  Critical Role for Mast Cell Stat5 Activity in Skin Inflammation 
Cell reports  2014;6(2):366-376.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Here, we show that phospholipase C-β3 (PLC-β3)-deficient mice spontaneously develop AD-like skin lesions and more severe allergen-induced dermatitis than wild-type mice. Mast cells were required for both AD models and remarkably increased in the skin of Plcb3−/− mice because of the increased Stat5 and reduced SHP-1 activities. Mast cell-specific deletion of Stat5 gene ameliorated allergen-induced dermatitis, whereas that of Shp1 gene encoding Stat5-inactivating SHP-1 exacerbated it. PLC-β3 regulates the expression of periostin in fibroblasts and TSLP in keratinocytes, two proteins critically involved in AD pathogenesis. Furthermore, polymorphisms in PLCB3, SHP1, STAT5A, and STAT5B genes were associated with human AD. Mast cell expression of PLC-β3 was inversely correlated with that of phospho-STAT5, and increased mast cells with high levels of phospho-STAT5 were found in lesional skin of some AD patients. Therefore, STAT5 regulatory mechanisms in mast cells are important for AD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4329986  PMID: 24412367
2.  Ethnic-specific associations of rare and low-frequency DNA sequence variants with asthma 
Nature Communications  2015;6:5965.
Common variants at many loci have been robustly associated with asthma but explain little of the overall genetic risk. Here we investigate the role of rare (<1%) and low-frequency (1–5%) variants using the Illumina HumanExome BeadChip array in 4,794 asthma cases, 4,707 non-asthmatic controls and 590 case–parent trios representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans and Latinos. Our study reveals one low-frequency missense mutation in the GRASP gene that is associated with asthma in the Latino sample (P=4.31 × 10−6; OR=1.25; MAF=1.21%) and two genes harbouring functional variants that are associated with asthma in a gene-based analysis: GSDMB at the 17q12–21 asthma locus in the Latino and combined samples (P=7.81 × 10−8 and 4.09 × 10−8, respectively) and MTHFR in the African ancestry sample (P=1.72 × 10−6). Our results suggest that associations with rare and low-frequency variants are ethnic specific and not likely to explain a significant proportion of the ‘missing heritability’ of asthma.
Common variants account for only a small amount of the heritable risk for developing asthma. Using a meta-analysis approach, Igartua et al. identify one low-frequency missense mutation and two genes with functional variants that are associated with asthma, but only in specific ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC4309441  PMID: 25591454
3.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Lung Function Phenotypes in a Founder Population 
Lung function is a long-term predictor of mortality and morbidity.
We sought to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with lung function.
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and FEV1/FVC in 1,144 Hutterites aged 6–89 years, who are members of a founder population of European descent. We performed least absolute shrinkage and selection operation (LASSO) regression to select the minimum set of SNPs that best predict FEV1/FVC in the Hutterites and used the GRAIL algorithm to mine the Gene Ontology database for evidence of functional connections between genes near the predictive SNPs.
Our GWAS identified significant associations between FEV1/FVC and SNPs at the THSD4-UACA-TLE3 locus on chromosome 15q23 (P = 5.7x10−8 ~ 3.4x10−9). Nine SNPs at or near four additional loci had P-values < 10−5 with FEV1/FVC. There were only two SNPs with P-values < 10−5 for FEV1 or FVC. We found nominal levels of significance with SNPs at 9 of the 27 previously reported loci associated with lung function measures. Among a predictive set of 80 SNPs, six loci were identified that had a significant degree of functional connectivity (GRAIL P < 0.05), including three clusters of β-defensin genes, two chemokine genes (CCL18 and CXCL12), and TNFRSF13B.
This study identifies genome-wide significant associations and replicates results of previous GWAS. Multimarker modeling implicated for the first time common variation in genes involved in anti-microbial immunity in airway mucosa influences lung function.
PMCID: PMC4270121  PMID: 23932459
4.  African Ancestry is a Risk Factor for Asthma and High Total IgE Levels in African Admixed Populations 
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(4):393-401.
Characterization of genetic admixture of populations in the Americas and the Caribbean is of interest for anthropological, epidemiological, and historical reasons. Asthma has a higher prevalence and is more severe in populations with a high African component. Association of African ancestry with asthma has been demonstrated. We estimated admixture proportions of samples from six trihybrid populations of African descent and determined the relationship between African ancestry and asthma and total serum IgE levels (tIgE). We genotyped 237 ancestry informative markers in asthmatics and nonasthmatic controls from Barbados (190/277), Jamaica (177/529), Brazil (40/220), Colombia (508/625), African Americans from New York (207/171), and African Americans from Baltimore/Washington, D.C. (625/757). We estimated individual ancestries and evaluated genetic stratification using Structure and principal component analysis. Association of African ancestry and asthma and tIgE was evaluated by regression analysis. Mean SD African ancestry ranged from 0.76 ± 0.10 among Barbadians to 0.33 ± 0.13 in Colombians. The European component varied from 0.14 ± 0.05 among Jamaicans and Barbadians to 0.26 ± 0.08 among Colombians. African ancestry was associated with risk for asthma in Colombians (odds ratio (OR) = 4.5, P = 0.001) Brazilians (OR = 136.5, P = 0.003), and African Americans of New York (OR: 4.7; P = 0.040). African ancestry was also associated with higher tIgE levels among Colombians (β = 1.3, P = 0.04), Barbadians (β = 3.8, P = 0.03), and Brazilians (β = 1.6, P = 0.03). Our findings indicate that African ancestry can account for, at least in part, the association between asthma and its associated trait, tIgE levels.
PMCID: PMC4051322  PMID: 23554133
African; asthma; ancestry
5.  Genome-wide study identifies two loci associated with lung function decline in mild to moderate COPD 
Human genetics  2012;132(1):79-90.
Accelerated lung function decline is a key COPD phenotype; however its genetic control remains largely unknown.
We performed a genome-wide association study using the Illumina Human660W-Quad v.1_A BeadChip. Generalized estimation equations were used to assess genetic contributions to lung function decline over a 5-year period in 4,048 European-American Lung Health Study participants with largely mild COPD. Genotype imputation was performed using reference HapMap II data. To validate regions meeting genome-wide significance, replication of top SNPs was attempted in independent cohorts. Three genes (TMEM26, ANK3 and FOXA1) within the regions of interest were selected for tissue expression studies using immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results
Two intergenic SNPs (rs10761570, rs7911302) on chromosome 10 and one SNP on chromosome 14 (rs177852) met genome-wide significance after Bonferroni. Further support for the chromosome 10 region was obtained by imputation, the most significantly associated imputed SNPs (rs10761571, rs7896712) being flanked by observed markers rs10761570 and rs7911302. Results were not replicated in four general population cohorts or a smaller cohort of subjects with moderate to severe COPD; however, we show novel expression of genes near regions of significantly associated SNPS, including TMEM26 and FOXA1 in airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, and ANK3 in alveolar macrophages. Levels of expression were associated with lung function and COPD status.
We identified two novel regions associated with lung function decline in mild COPD. Genes within these regions were expressed in relevant lung cells and their expression related to airflow limitation suggesting they may represent novel candidate genes for COPD susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3536920  PMID: 22986903
COPD; lung function decline; GWAS; genome wide association; genes; polymorphisms
6.  African and Non-African Admixture Components in African Americans and An African Caribbean Population 
Genetic epidemiology  2010;34(6):10.1002/gepi.20512.
Admixture is a potential source of confounding in genetic association studies, so it becomes important to detect and estimate admixture in a sample of unrelated individuals. Populations of African descent in the US and the Caribbean share similar historical backgrounds but the distributions of African admixture may differ. We selected 416 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to estimate and compare admixture proportions using STRUCTURE in 906 unrelated African Americans (AAs) and 294 Barbadians (ACs) from a study of asthma. This analysis showed AAs on average were 72.5% African, 19.6% European and 8% Asian, while ACs were 77.4% African, 15.9% European, and 6.7% Asian which were significantly different. A principal components analysis based on these AIMs yielded one primary eigenvector that explained 54.04% of the variation and captured a gradient from West African to European admixture. This principal component was highly correlated with African vs. European ancestry as estimated by STRUCTURE (r2 = 0.992, r2 = 0.912, respectively). To investigate other African contributions to African American and Barbadian admixture, we performed PCA on ~14,000 (14k) genome-wide SNPs in AAs, ACs, Yorubans, Luhya and Maasai African groups, and estimated genetic distances (FST). We found AAs and ACs were closest genetically (FST = 0.008), and both were closer to the Yorubans than the other East African populations. In our sample of individuals of African descent, ~400 well-defined AIMs were just as good for detecting substructure as ~14,000 random SNPs drawn from a genome-wide panel of markers.
PMCID: PMC3837693  PMID: 20717976
admixture; African Americans; African Caribbeans; African ancestry; genetic distance
7.  ITGB5 and AGFG1 variants are associated with severity of airway responsiveness 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:86.
Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), a primary characteristic of asthma, involves increased airway smooth muscle contractility in response to certain exposures. We sought to determine whether common genetic variants were associated with AHR severity.
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of AHR, quantified as the natural log of the dosage of methacholine causing a 20% drop in FEV1, was performed with 994 non-Hispanic white asthmatic subjects from three drug clinical trials: CAMP, CARE, and ACRN. Genotyping was performed on Affymetrix 6.0 arrays, and imputed data based on HapMap Phase 2, was used to measure the association of SNPs with AHR using a linear regression model. Replication of primary findings was attempted in 650 white subjects from DAG, and 3,354 white subjects from LHS. Evidence that the top SNPs were eQTL of their respective genes was sought using expression data available for 419 white CAMP subjects.
The top primary GWAS associations were in rs848788 (P-value 7.2E-07) and rs6731443 (P-value 2.5E-06), located within the ITGB5 and AGFG1 genes, respectively. The AGFG1 result replicated at a nominally significant level in one independent population (LHS P-value 0.012), and the SNP had a nominally significant unadjusted P-value (0.0067) for being an eQTL of AGFG1.
Based on current knowledge of ITGB5 and AGFG1, our results suggest that variants within these genes may be involved in modulating AHR. Future functional studies are required to confirm that our associations represent true biologically significant findings.
PMCID: PMC3765944  PMID: 23984888
Asthma; Airway hyperresponsiveness; Genome-wide association study; ITGB5; AGFG1
8.  A Genome-Wide Association Study on African-Ancestry Populations For Asthma 
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by striking ethnic disparities not explained entirely by environmental, social, cultural, or economic factors. Of the limited genetic studies performed on populations of African descent, notable differences in susceptibility allele frequencies have been observed.
To test the hypothesis that some genes may contribute to the profound disparities in asthma.
We performed a genome-wide association study in two independent populations of African ancestry (935 African American asthma cases and controls from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, and 929 African Caribbean asthmatics and their family members from Barbados) to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with asthma.
Meta-analysis combining these two African-ancestry populations yielded three SNPs with a combined P-value <10-5 in genes of potential biological relevance to asthma and allergic disease: rs10515807, mapping to alpha-1B-adrenergic receptor (ADRA1B) gene on chromosome 5q33 (3.57×10-6); rs6052761, mapping to prion-related protein (PRNP) on chromosome 20pter-p12 (2.27×10-6); and rs1435879, mapping to dipeptidyl peptidase 10 (DPP10) on chromosome 2q12.3-q14.2. The generalizability of these findings was tested in family and case-control panels of UK and German origin, respectively, but none of the associations observed in the African groups were replicated in these European studies.
Evidence for association was also examined in four additional case-control studies of African Americans; however, none of the SNPs implicated in the discovery population were replicated. This study illustrates the complexity of identifying true associations for a complex and heterogeneous disease such as asthma in admixed populations, especially populations of African descent.
PMCID: PMC3606015  PMID: 19910028
Asthma; GWAS; ADRA1B; PRNP; DPP10; African ancestry; ethnicity; polymorphism; genetic association
9.  Meta-analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies of Asthma In Ethnically Diverse North American Populations 
Torgerson, Dara G. | Ampleford, Elizabeth J. | Chiu, Grace Y. | Gauderman, W. James | Gignoux, Christopher R. | Graves, Penelope E. | Himes, Blanca E. | Levin, Albert M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | Hancock, Dana B. | Baurley, James W. | Eng, Celeste | Stern, Debra A. | Celedón, Juan C. | Rafaels, Nicholas | Capurso, Daniel | Conti, David V. | Roth, Lindsey A. | Soto-Quiros, Manuel | Togias, Alkis | Li, Xingnan | Myers, Rachel A. | Romieu, Isabelle | Van Den Berg, David J. | Hu, Donglei | Hansel, Nadia N. | Hernandez, Ryan D. | Israel, Elliott | Salam, Muhammad T. | Galanter, Joshua | Avila, Pedro C. | Avila, Lydiana | Rodriquez-Santana, Jose R. | Chapela, Rocio | Rodriguez-Cintron, William | Diette, Gregory B. | Adkinson, N. Franklin | Abel, Rebekah A. | Ross, Kevin D. | Shi, Min | Faruque, Mezbah U. | Dunston, Georgia M. | Watson, Harold R. | Mantese, Vito J. | Ezurum, Serpil C. | Liang, Liming | Ruczinski, Ingo | Ford, Jean G. | Huntsman, Scott | Chung, Kian Fan | Vora, Hita | Li, Xia | Calhoun, William J. | Castro, Mario | Sienra-Monge, Juan J. | del Rio-Navarro, Blanca | Deichmann, Klaus A. | Heinzmann, Andrea | Wenzel, Sally E. | Busse, William W. | Gern, James E. | Lemanske, Robert F. | Beaty, Terri H. | Bleecker, Eugene R. | Raby, Benjamin A. | Meyers, Deborah A. | London, Stephanie J. | Gilliland, Frank D. | Burchard, Esteban G. | Martinez, Fernando D. | Weiss, Scott T. | Williams, L. Keoki | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Ober, Carole | Nicolae, Dan L.
Nature genetics  2011;43(9):887-892.
Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma in 5,416 asthma cases representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans, and Latinos, and replicated five regions among the most significant signals in 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, and near the IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33, genes, but we report for the first time that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a novel association with asthma in the PYHIN1, gene that was specific to individuals of African descent (p=3.9×10−9). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3445408  PMID: 21804549
10.  Genetic Variants in Interferon Regulatory Factor 2 (IRF2) are Associated with Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema Herpeticum 
Interferon regulatory factor 2 (IRF2) is a member of a family of transcriptional factors involved in the modulation of interferon induced immune responses to viral infection. To test whether genetic variants in IRF2 predict risk of AD and ADEH, we genotyped 78 IRF2 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in both European American (n=435) and African American (n = 339) populations. Significant associations were observed between AD and two SNPs (rs793814, P = 0.007, odds ratio (OR) = 0.52; rs3756094, P = 0.037, OR = 0.66) among European Americans and one SNP (rs3775572, P = 0.016, OR = 0.46) among African Americans. Significant associations were also observed between ADEH and five SNPs (P = 0.049-0.022) among European Americans. The association with ADEH was further strengthened by haplotype analyses, wherein a 5-SNP (CAGGA) haplotype showed the strongest association with ADEH (P = 0.0008). Eight IRF2 SNPs were significantly associated with IFNγ production post-herpes simplex virus (HSV) stimulation (P = 0.048-0.0008), including an AD-associated SNP (rs13139310, P = 0.008). Our findings suggest distinct markers in IRF2 may be associated with AD and ADEH, which may depend upon ethnic ancestry, and genetic variants in IRF2 may contribute to an abnormal immune response to HSV.
PMCID: PMC3278591  PMID: 22113474
12.  Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Gene Promoter Polymorphisms Are Associated with Susceptibility to Bronchial Asthma 
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) triggers dendritic cell–mediated T helper (Th) 2 inflammatory responses. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3806933, in the promoter region of the TSLP gene creates a binding site for the transcription factor activating protein (AP)–1. The variant enhances AP-1 binding to the regulatory element, and increases the promoter–reporter activity of TSLP in response to polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly[I:C]) stimulation in normal human bronchial epithelium (NHBE). We investigated whether polymorphisms including the SNP rs3806933 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of bronchial asthma. We selected three representative (i.e., Tag) SNPs and conducted association studies of the TSLP gene, using two independent populations (639 patients with childhood atopic asthma and 838 control subjects, and 641 patients with adult asthma and 376 control subjects, respectively). We further examined the effects of corticosteroids and a long-acting β2-agonist (salmeterol) on the expression levels of the TSLP gene in response to poly(I:C) in NHBE. We found that the promoter polymorphisms rs3806933 and rs2289276 were significantly associated with disease susceptibility in both childhood atopic and adult asthma. The functional SNP rs3806933 was associated with asthma (meta-analysis, P = 0.000056; odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.47). A genotype of rs2289278 was correlated with pulmonary function. Moreover, the induction of TSLP mRNA and protein expression induced by poly(I:C) in NHBE was synergistically impaired by a corticosteroid and salmeterol. TSLP variants are significantly associated with bronchial asthma and pulmonary function. Thus, TSLP may serve as a therapeutic target molecule for combination therapy.
PMCID: PMC3159073  PMID: 20656951
asthma; TSLP; bronchial epithelial cells; combination therapy; genetic polymorphisms
13.  Human Atopic Dermatitis Complicated by Eczema Herpeticum is Associated with Abnormalities in Gamma Interferon Response 
The basis for increased susceptibility of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients to develop disseminated viral skin infections such as eczema herpeticum (ADEH+) is poorly understood.
We sought to determine whether atopic dermatitis subjects prone to disseminated viral skin infections have defects in their interferon responses.
GeneChip profiling was used to identify differences in gene expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with a history of ADEH+ as compared to ADEH− and non-atopic controls. Key differences in protein expression were verified by ELISPOT and/or ELISA. Clinical relevance was further demonstrated by a mouse model of disseminated viral skin infection and genetic association analysis for genetic variants in IFNG and IFNGR1 and ADEH among 435 cases and controls.
We demonstrate by global gene expression analysis selective transcriptomic changes within the interferon (IFN) superfamily of PBMCs from ADEH+ subjects reflecting low IFNγ and IFNγ receptor gene expression. IFNγ protein production was also significantly lower in ADEH+ (N=24) compared to ADEH− (N=20) and non-atopic (NA; N=20) controls. IFNγ receptor knockout (KO) mice developed disseminated viral skin infection after epicutaneous challenge with vaccinia virus (VV). Genetic variants in IFNG and IFNGR1 SNPs were significantly associated with ADEH (112 cases, 166 controls) and IFNγ production: a 2-SNP (A–G) IFNGR1 haplotype (rs10457655 and rs7749390) showed the strongest association with a reduced risk of ADEH+ ((13.2% ADEH+ vs 25.5% ADEH−, P = 0.00057).
ADEH+ patients have reduced IFNγ production, and IFNG and IFNGR1 SNPs are significantly associated with ADEH+ and may contribute to an impaired immune response to herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Clinical Implications
Atopic dermatitis subjects prone to disseminated viral skin infections have defects in their interferon responses.
Capsule summary
Using genomic, immunologic and genetic approaches, these investigators demonstrated that atopic dermatitis subjects prone to disseminated viral skin infections have defects in their interferon responses.
PMCID: PMC3074534  PMID: 21458658
atopic dermatitis; infection; eczema herpeticum; IFNG, IFNGR1
14.  Tight Junction Defects in Atopic Dermatitis 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by dry skin and a hyperreactive immune response to allergens, two cardinal features that are caused in part by epidermal barrier defects. Tight junctions (TJ) reside immediately below the stratum corneum and regulate the selective permeability of the paracellular pathway.
We evaluated the expression/function of the TJ protein, claudin-1 in epithelium from AD and nonatopic (NA) subjects and screened two American populations for SNPs in CLDN1.
Expression profiles of nonlesional epithelium from extrinsic AD, NA and psoriasis subjects were generated using Illumina’s BeadChips. Dysregulated intercellular proteins were validated by tissue staining and qPCR. Bioelectric properties of epithelium were measured in Ussing chambers. Functional relevance of claudin-1 was assessed using a knockdown approach in primary human keratinocytes (PHK). Twenty seven haplotype-tagging SNPs in CLDN1 were screened in two independent AD populations.
We observed strikingly reduced expression of the TJ proteins claudin-1 and -23 only in AD, which were validated at the mRNA and protein levels. Claudin-1 expression inversely correlated with Th2 biomarkers. We observed a remarkable impairment of the bioelectric barrier function in AD epidermis. In vitro, we confirmed that silencing claudin-1 expression in human keratinocytes diminishes TJ function while enhancing keratinocyte proliferation. Finally, CLDN1 haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms revealed associations with AD in two North American populations.
Taken together, these data suggest that an impaired epidermal TJ is a novel feature of skin barrier dysfunction and immune dysregulation observed in AD, and that CLDN1 may be a new susceptibility gene in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3049863  PMID: 21163515
atopic dermatitis; claudin-1; tight junctions
15.  CD14, a Key Candidate Gene Associated with Specific Immune Response to Cockroach 
Sensitization to cockroach allergen is one of the strongest predictors of asthma morbidity, especially among African Americans.
Our aims were to determine the genomic basis of cockroach sensitization and the specific response to cockroach antigen.
We investigated the Th1/Th2 cytokine profile of co-cultured plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and CD4+ T cells and the “transcript signature” of the immune response to cockroach antigen using high-throughput expression profiling of co-cultured cells.
We observed significantly elevated levels of IL-13, IL-10 and TNF-α, but undetectable levels of IL-12p70 and IFN-α, when cultures were exposed to crude cockroach antigen. A significant difference was observed for IL-13 between cockroach allergic and non-allergic individuals (p = 0.039). Microarray analyses demonstrated a greater response at 48 hours compared to 4 hours, with 50 genes being uniquely expressed in cockroach antigen-treated cells, including CD14, S100A8, CCL8, and IFI44L. The increased CD14 expression was further observed in purified pDCs, human monocytic THP-1 cells, and supernatant of co-cultured pDCs and CD4+ T cells in exposure to cockroach extract. Furthermore, the most differential expression of CD14 between cockroach allergy and non-cockroach allergy was only observed among individuals with the CC “high-risk” genotype of the CD14 -260C/T. Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) analyses suggested the interferon-signaling as the most significant canonical pathway.
Our results suggest these differentially expressed genes, particularly CD14, and genes in the interferon-signaling pathway may be important candidates for further investigation of their role in the immune response to cockroach allergen.
PMCID: PMC2920999  PMID: 20618347
asthma; CD4+ T cells; CD14; cockroach sensitization; Dendritic cells (DCs); high-throughput expression profiling
16.  Genetic Variants in TSLP are Associated with Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema Herpeticum 
PMCID: PMC2925504  PMID: 20466416
Atopic dermatitis; eczema herpeticum; thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP); interleukin (IL) 7-like cytokine (IL7R); thymic stromal lymphopoietin receptor (TSLPR); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); gene-gene interaction
17.  Polymorphisms in the sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-8 (Siglec-8) gene are associated with susceptibility to asthma 
Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-8 (Siglec-8) promotes the apoptosis of eosinophils and inhibits FcɛRI-dependent mediator release from mast cells. We investigated the genetic association between sequence variants in Siglec-8 and diagnosis of asthma, total levels of serum IgE (tIgE), and diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) in diverse populations. The effect of sequence variants on Siglec-8 glycan ligand-binding activity was also examined. Significant association with asthma was observed for SNP rs36498 (odds ratios (OR), 0.69, P=8.8 × 10−5) among African Americans and for SNP rs10409962 (Ser/Pro) in the Japanese population (OR, 0.69, P=0.019). Supporting this finding, we observed association between SNP rs36498 and current asthma among Brazilian families (P=0.013). Significant association with tIgE was observed for SNP rs6509541 among African Americans (P=0.016), and replicated among the Brazilian families (P=0.02). In contrast, no association was observed with EE in Caucasians. By using a synthetic polymer decorated with 6′-sulfo-sLex, a known Siglec-8 glycan ligand, we did not find any differences between the ligand-binding activity of HEK293 cells stably transfected with the rs10409962 risk allele or the WT allele. However, our association results suggest that the Siglec8 gene may be a susceptibility locus for asthma.
PMCID: PMC2987348  PMID: 20087405
sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-8 (Siglec8); polymorphisms; asthma; eosinophilic esophagitis
18.  Aquaporin 5 Polymorphisms and Rate of Lung Function Decline in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14226.
Aquaporin-5 (AQP5) can cause mucus overproduction and lower lung function. Genetic variants in the AQP5 gene might be associated with rate of lung function decline in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in AQP5 were genotyped in 429 European American individuals with COPD randomly selected from the NHLBI Lung Health Study. Mean annual decline in FEV1 % predicted, assessed over five years, was calculated as a linear regression slope, adjusting for potential covariates and stratified by smoking status. Constructs containing the wildtype allele and risk allele of the coding SNP N228K were generated using site-directed mutagenesis, and transfected into HBE-16 (human bronchial epithelial cell line). AQP5 abundance and localization were assessed by immunoblots and confocal immunofluoresence under control, shear stress and cigarette smoke extract (CSE 10%) exposed conditions to test for differential expression or localization.
Among continuous smokers, three of the five SNPs tested showed significant associations (0.02>P>0.004) with rate of lung function decline; no associations were observed among the group of intermittent or former smokers. Haplotype tests revealed multiple association signals (0.012>P>0.0008) consistent with the single-SNP results. In HBE16 cells, shear stress and CSE led to a decrease in AQP5 abundance in the wild-type, but not in the N228K AQP5 plasmid.
Polymorphisms in AQP5 were associated with rate of lung function decline in continuous smokers with COPD. A missense mutation modulates AQP-5 expression in response to cigarette smoke extract and shear stress. These results suggest that AQP5 may be an important candidate gene for COPD.
PMCID: PMC2997058  PMID: 21151978
19.  TSLP Polymorphisms are Associated with Asthma in a Sex-Specific Fashion 
Allergy  2010;65(12):1566-1575.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) have been associated with IgE (in girls) and asthma (in general). We sought to determine whether TSLP SNPs are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
We conducted regular and sex-stratified analyses of association between SNPs in TSLP and asthma in families of asthmatic children in Costa Rica. Significant findings were replicated in white and African-American participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program, in African Americans in the Genomic Research on Asthma in the African Diaspora study, in whites and Hispanics in the Children’s Health Study, and in whites in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS).
Main Results
Two SNPs in TSLP (rs1837253 and rs2289276) were significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in combined analyses of all cohorts (p values of 2×10−5 and 1×10−5, respectively). In a sex-stratified analysis, the T allele of rs1837253 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in males only (p= 3×10−6). Alternately, the T allele of rs2289276 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in females only (p= 2×10−4). Findings for rs2289276 were consistent in all cohorts except the FHS.
TSLP variants are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
PMCID: PMC2970693  PMID: 20560908
asthma; genetic association; sex-specific; thymic stromal lymphopoietin; TSLP
20.  Transforming Growth Factor-β Receptor-3 Is Associated with Pulmonary Emphysema 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous syndrome, including emphysema and airway disease. Phenotypes defined on the basis of chest computed tomography (CT) may decrease disease heterogeneity and aid in the identification of candidate genes for COPD subtypes. To identify these genes, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis in extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, stratified by emphysema status (defined by chest CT scans) of the probands, followed by genetic association analysis of positional candidate genes. A region on chromosome 1p showed strong evidence of linkage to lung function traits in families of emphysema-predominant probands in the stratified analysis (LOD score = 2.99 in families of emphysema-predominant probands versus 1.98 in all families). Association analysis in 949 individuals from 127 early-onset COPD pedigrees revealed association for COPD-related traits with an intronic single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in transforming growth factor-β receptor-3 (TGFBR3) (P = 0.005). This SNP was significantly associated with COPD affection status comparing 389 cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial to 472 control smokers (P = 0.04), and with FEV1 (P = 0.004) and CT emphysema (P = 0.05) in 3,117 subjects from the International COPD Genetics Network. Gene-level replication of association with lung function was seen in 427 patients with COPD from the Lung Health Study. In conclusion, stratified linkage analysis followed by association testing identified TGFBR3 (betaglycan) as a potential susceptibility gene for COPD. Published human microarray and murine linkage studies have also demonstrated the importance of TGFBR3 in emphysema and lung function, and our group and others have previously found association of COPD-related traits with TGFB1, a ligand for TGFBR3.
PMCID: PMC2742752  PMID: 19131638
betaglycan; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; linkage; single nucleotide polymorphism
21.  Gene Encoding Duffy Antigen/Receptor for Chemokines Is Associated with Asthma and IgE in Three Populations 
Rationale: Asthma prevalence and severity are high among underserved minorities, including those of African descent. The Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines is the receptor for Plasmodium vivax on erythrocytes and functions as a chemokine-clearing receptor. Unlike European populations, decreased expression of the receptor on erythrocytes is common among populations of African descent, and results from a functional T-46C polymorphism (rs2814778) in the promoter. This variant provides an evolutionary advantage in malaria-endemic regions, because Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines-negative erythrocytes are more resistant to infection by P. vivax.
Objectives: To determine the role of the rs2814778 polymorphism in asthma and atopy as measured by total serum IgE levels among four populations of African descent (African Caribbean, African American, Brazilian, and Colombian) and a European American population.
Methods: Family-based association tests were performed in each of the five populations to test for association between the rs2814778 polymorphism and asthma or total IgE concentration.
Measurements and Main Results: Asthma was significantly associated with the rs2814778 polymorphism in the African Caribbean, Colombian, and Brazilian families (P < 0.05). High total IgE levels were associated with this variant in African Caribbean and Colombian families (P < 0.05). The variant allele was not polymorphic among European Americans.
Conclusions: Susceptibility to asthma and atopy among certain populations of African descent is influenced by a functional polymorphism in the gene encoding Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines. This genetic variant, which confers resistance to malarial parasitic infection, may also partially explain ethnic differences in morbidity of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2582596  PMID: 18827265
Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines; continental population groups; lung diseases; hypersensitivity
22.  Sensitive Detection of Chromosomal Segments of Distinct Ancestry in Admixed Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000519.
Identifying the ancestry of chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry has a wide range of applications from disease mapping to learning about history. Most methods require the use of unlinked markers; but, using all markers from genome-wide scanning arrays, it should in principle be possible to infer the ancestry of even very small segments with exquisite accuracy. We describe a method, HAPMIX, which employs an explicit population genetic model to perform such local ancestry inference based on fine-scale variation data. We show that HAPMIX outperforms other methods, and we explore its utility for inferring ancestry, learning about ancestral populations, and inferring dates of admixture. We validate the method empirically by applying it to populations that have experienced recent and ancient admixture: 935 African Americans from the United States and 29 Mozabites from North Africa. HAPMIX will be of particular utility for mapping disease genes in recently admixed populations, as its accurate estimates of local ancestry permit admixture and case-control association signals to be combined, enabling more powerful tests of association than with either signal alone.
Author Summary
The genomes of individuals from admixed populations consist of chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry. For example, the genomes of African American individuals contain segments of both African and European ancestry, so that a specific location in the genome may inherit 0, 1, or 2 copies of European ancestry. Inferring an individual's local ancestry, their number of copies of each ancestry at each location in the genome, has important applications in disease mapping and in understanding human history. Here we describe HAPMIX, a method that analyzes data from dense genotyping chips to infer local ancestry with very high precision. An important feature of HAPMIX is that it makes use of data from haplotypes (blocks of nearby markers), which are more informative for ancestry than individual markers. Our simulations demonstrate the utility of HAPMIX for local ancestry inference, and empirical applications to African American and Mozabite data sets uncover important aspects of the history of these populations.
PMCID: PMC2689842  PMID: 19543370

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