Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a sexually dimorphic autoimmune disease which is more common in women, but affected men often experience a more severe disease. The genetic basis of sexual dimorphism in SLE is not clearly defined. A study was undertaken to examine sex-specific genetic effects among SLE susceptibility loci.
A total of 18 autosomal genetic susceptibility loci for SLE were genotyped in a large set of patients with SLE and controls of European descent, consisting of 5932 female and 1495 male samples. Sex-specific genetic association analyses were performed. The sex–gene interaction was further validated using parametric and nonparametric methods. Aggregate differences in sex-specific genetic risk were examined by calculating a cumulative genetic risk score for SLE in each individual and comparing the average genetic risk between male and female patients.
A significantly higher cumulative genetic risk for SLE was observed in men than in women. (P = 4.52×10−8) A significant sex–gene interaction was seen primarily in the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) region but also in IRF5, whereby men with SLE possess a significantly higher frequency of risk alleles than women. The genetic effect observed in KIAA1542 is specific to women with SLE and does not seem to have a role in men.
The data indicate that men require a higher cumulative genetic load than women to develop SLE. These observations suggest that sex bias in autoimmunity could be influenced by autosomal genetic susceptibility loci.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; OMIM 152700) is a chronic autoimmune disease for which the aetiology includes genetic and environmental factors. ITGAM, integrin αΜ (complement component 3 receptor 3 subunit) encoding a ligand for intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) proteins, is an established SLE susceptibility locus. This study aimed to evaluate the independent and joint effects of genetic variations in the genes that encode ITGAM and ICAM.
The authors examined several markers in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus on chromosome 19p13 and the single ITGAM polymorphism (rs1143679) using a large-scale case–control study of 17 481 unrelated participants from four ancestry populations. The single marker association and gene–gene interaction were analysed for each ancestry, and a meta-analysis across the four ancestries was performed.
The A-allele of ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 rs3093030, associated with elevated plasma levels of soluble ICAM1, and the A-allele of ITGAM rs1143679 showed the strongest association with increased SLE susceptibility in each of the ancestry populations and the trans-ancestry meta-analysis (ORmeta=1.16, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.22; p=4.88×10−10 and ORmeta=1.67, 95% CI 1.55 to 1.79; p=3.32×10−46, respectively). The effect of the ICAM single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was independent of the effect of the ITGAM SNP rs1143679, and carriers of both ICAM rs3093030-AA and ITGAM rs1143679-AA had an OR of 4.08 compared with those with no risk allele in either SNP (95% CI 2.09 to 7.98; p=3.91×10−5).
These findings are the first to suggest that an ICAM–integrin-mediated pathway contributes to susceptibility to SLE.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
Maternal microchimerism (MMc) can persist for years in a child, and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases. Chimeric cells may either contribute to disease by acting as immune targets or expand in response to signals of injury, inflammation or repair. We investigated the role of maternal cells in tissue injury in the absence of autoimmunity by quantifying MMc by quantitative PCR in acute and chronic models of renal injury: (1) reversible acute renal injury, inflammation and regeneration induced by rhabdomyolysis and (2) chronic injury leading to fibrosis after unilateral ureteral obstruction. We found that MMc is common in the mouse kidney. In mice congenic with their mothers neither acute nor chronic renal injury with fibrosis influenced the levels or prevalence of MMc. Maternal cells expressing MHC antigens not shared by offspring (H2b/d) were detected at lower levels in all groups of homozygous H2b/b or H2d/d offspring, with or without renal injury, suggesting that partial tolerance to low levels of alloantigens may regulate the homeostatic levels of maternal cells within tissues. Maternal cells homozygous for H2b were lost in H2b/d offspring only after acute renal failure, suggesting that an inflammatory stimulus led to loss of tolerance to homozygous maternal cells. The study suggests that elevated MMc previously found in association with human autoimmune diseases may not be a response to non-specific injury or inflammatory signals, but rather a primary event integral to the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
rhabdomyolysis; maternal microchimerism; ureteral obstruction; renal fibrosis; renal regeneration; renal injury; major histocompatibility complex antigens
Monocytes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are hyperstimulatory for T lymphocytes. We previously found that the normal program for expression of a negative costimulatory molecule programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) is defective in SLE patients with active disease. Here, we investigated the mechanism for PD-L1 dysregulation on lupus monocytes. We found that PD-L1 expression on cultured SLE monocytes correlated with TNF-α expression. Exogenous TNF-α restored PD-L1 expression on lupus monocytes. Conversely, TGF-β inversely correlated with PD-L1 in SLE and suppressed expression of PD-L1 on healthy monocytes. Therefore, PD-L1 expression in monocytes is regulated by opposing actions of TNF-α and TGF-β. As PD-L1 functions to fine tune lymphocyte activation, dysregulation of cytokines resulting in reduced expression could lead to loss of peripheral T cell tolerance.
Deficiencies of the T cell and NK cell CD3ζ signaling adapter protein in cancer and autoimmune disease patients are well documented but mechanistic explanations are fragmentary. The stimulatory NKG2D receptor on T cells and NK cells mediates tumor immunity but can also promote local and systemic immune suppression in conditions of persistent NKG2D ligand induction that include cancer and certain autoimmune diseases. Here we provide evidence that establishes a causative link between CD3ζ impairment and chronic NKG2D stimulation due to pathological ligand expression. We describe a mechanism whereby NKG2D signaling in human T cells and NK cells initiates Fas ligand/Fas-mediated caspase-3/7 activation and resultant CD3ζ degradation. As a consequence, the functional capacities of the TCR, the low-affinity Fc receptor for IgG, and the NKp30 and NKp46 natural cytotoxicity receptors, which all signal through CD3ζ, are impaired. These findings are extended to ex vivo phenotypes of T cells and NK cells among tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and in peripheral blood from juvenile-onset lupus patients. Collectively, these results indicate that pathological NKG2D ligand expression leads to simultaneous impairment of multiple CD3ζ-dependent receptor functions, thus offering an explanation that may be applicable to CD3ζ deficiencies associated with diverse disease conditions.
Little is known about the genetic etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in individuals of African ancestry, despite its higher prevalence and greater disease severity. Overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species are implicated in the pathogenesis and severity of SLE, making NO synthases and other reactive intermediate related genes biological candidates for disease susceptibility. This study analyzed variation in reactive intermediate genes for association with SLE in two populations with African ancestry.
A total of 244 SNPs from 53 regions were analyzed in non-Gullah African Americans (AA; 1432 cases and 1687 controls) and the genetically more homogeneous Gullah of the Sea Islands of South Carolina (133 cases and 112 controls) and. Single-marker, haplotype, and two-locus interaction tests were computed for these populations.
The glutathione reductase gene GSR (rs2253409, P=0.0014, OR [95% CI]=1.26 [1.09–1.44]) was the most significant single-SNP association in AA. In the Gullah, the NADH dehydrogenase NDUFS4 (rs381575, P=0.0065, OR [95%CI]=2.10 [1.23–3.59]) and nitric oxide synthase gene NOS1 (rs561712, P=0.0072, OR [95%CI]=0.62 [0.44–0.88]) were most strongly associated with SLE. When both populations were analyzed together, GSR remained the most significant effect (rs2253409, P=0.00072, OR [95%CI]=1.26 [1.10–1.44]). Haplotype and two-locus interaction analyses also uncovered different loci in each population.
These results suggest distinct patterns of association with SLE in African-derived populations; specific loci may be more strongly associated within select population groups.
systemic lupus erythematosus; African Americans; genetic association studies; oxygen compounds; single nucleotide polymorphism
Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) is a systemic inflammatory disease characterized by arthritis, spiking fever and a skin rash that is frequently complicated by macrophage activation syndrome (MAS), a life-threatening disorder. We report a 22-month-old girl with sJIA who developed severe MAS but was successfully treated with corticosteroids, cyclosporin A, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by monitoring serum IL-18 levels. IL-18 is an extremely useful cytokine for monitoring the activity of sJIA and MAS, and serum IL-18 can be used as an indicator for the effectiveness of treatment and the decision to discontinue therapy.
We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10−34, OR = 1.43[1.26–1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10−28, OR = 1.38[1.24–1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5′ region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5′ risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex disease in which the body's immune cells cause inflammation in one or more systems to cause the associated morbidity. Hormones, the environment and genes are all causal contributors to SLE and over the past several years the genetic component of SLE has been firmly established. Several genes which are regulators of the immune system are associated with disease risk. We have established one of these, the tumour-necrosis family superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4) gene, as a lupus susceptibility gene in Northern Europeans. A major obstacle in pinpointing the marker(s) at TNFSF4 which best explain the risk of SLE has been the strong correlation (linkage disequilibrium, LD) between adjacent markers across the TNFSF4 region in this population. To address this, we have typed polymorphisms in several populations in addition to the European groups. The mixed ancestry of these populations gives a different LD pattern than that found in Europeans, presenting a method of pinpointing the section of the TNFSF4 region which results in SLE susceptibility. The Non-European populations have allowed identification of a polymorphism likely to regulate expression of TNFSF4 to increase susceptibility to SLE.
In the United States, about 70% of 2.9-3.7 million people with hepatitis C (HCV) are unaware of their infection. Although universal screening might be a cost-effective way to identify infections, prevent morbidity, and reduce transmission, few efforts have been made to determine patient opinions about new approaches to screening.
We surveyed 200 patients in August 2010 at five outpatient clinics of a major public urban medical center in Seattle, WA, with an 85.8% response rate.
The sample was 55.3% women, median 47 years of age, and 56.3% white and 32.7% African or African-American; 9.5% and 2.5% reported testing positive for HCV and HIV, respectively. The vast majority of patients supported universal screening for HCV. When presented with three options for screening, 48% preferred universal testing without being informed that they were being tested or provided with negative results, 37% preferred testing with the chance to "opt-out" of being tested and without being provided with negative results, and 15% preferred testing based on clinician judgment. Results were similar for HIV screening.
Patients support universal screening for HCV, even if that screening involves testing without prior consent or the routine provision of negative test results. Current screening guidelines and procedures should be reconsidered in light of patient priorities.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a prototypic autoimmune disorder
with a complex pathogenesis in which genetic, hormonal and environmental factors
play a role. Rare mutations in the TREX1 gene, the major mammalian
3′-5′ exonuclease, have been reported in sporadic SLE cases.
Some of these mutations have also been identified in a rare pediatric neurologic
condition featuring an inflammatory encephalopathy known as
Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS). We sought to investigate the frequency
of these mutations in a large multi-ancestral cohort of SLE cases and
Forty single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including both common
and rare variants, across the TREX1 gene were evaluated in ∼8370
patients with SLE and ∼7490 control subjects. Stringent quality
control procedures were applied and principal components and admixture
proportions were calculated to identify outliers for removal from analysis.
Population-based case-control association analyses were performed. P values,
false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence
intervals were calculated.
The estimated frequency of TREX1 mutations in our lupus cohort was
0.5%. Five heterozygous mutations were detected at the Y305C
polymorphism in European lupus cases but none were observed in European
controls. Five African cases incurred heterozygous mutations at the E266G
polymorphism and, again, none were observed in the African controls. A rare
homozygous R114H mutation was identified in one Asian SLE patient whereas
all genotypes at this mutation in previous reports for SLE were
heterozygous. Analysis of common TREX1 SNPs (MAF >10%)
revealed a relatively common risk haplotype in European SLE patients with
neurologic manifestations, especially seizures, with a frequency of
58% in lupus cases compared to 45% in normal controls
(p=0.0008, OR=1.73, 95% CI=1.25-2.39).
Finally, the presence or absence of specific autoantibodies in certain
populations produced significant genetic associations. For example, a strong
association with anti-nRNP was observed in the European cohort at a coding
synonymous variant rs56203834 (p=2.99E-13, OR=5.2,
Our data confirm and expand previous reports and provide additional
support for the involvement of TREX1 in lupus pathogenesis.
Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) mediates lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced immune responses, which may contribute to preterm labor associated with intraamniotic gram-negative bacterial infections. The study objective was to investigate gestational age and LPS-induced changes in TLR4 subcellular localization within amniotic epithelium, the first line of host defense against intraamniotic bacteria. TLR4 localization in amniotic epithelium was assessed using immunohistochemistry on 24 placentas of different gestational ages: first trimester (n = 6), second trimester (n=6), and third trimester (n=12). Immunofluorescence was used to determine TLR4 localization following ex vivo LPS stimulation of amnion from women undergoing cesarean section without labor at term. TLR4 was expressed in the cytoplasm of amniotic epithelium starting at 9 weeks with apical polarization by 25 weeks gestation. TLR4 localization to the basal membrane was significantly associated with chorioamnionitis (p=0.01). After LPS stimulation, TLR4 was expressed sequentially within the apical membrane, cytoplasm, and finally in the basal cellular compartment. This suggests that TLR4 expression in amniotic epithelium is poised to monitor amniotic fluid for pathogens. TLR4 translocation to the basal membrane may decrease LPS signaling early in an infection, but allow the amniotic epithelium to remain competent to invasive or intracellular bacteria.
placenta; toll-like receptor 4; amnion; amniotic epithelium; chorioamnionitis lipopolysaccharide; translocation
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with significant immune system aberrations resulting from complex heritable genetics as well as environmental factors. TRAF6 is a candidate gene for SLE, which has a major role in several signaling pathways that are important for immunity and organ development.
Fifteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), across TRAF6 were evaluated in 7,490 SLE and 6,780 control subjects from different ancestries. Population-based case-control association analyses and meta-analyses were performed. P values, false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Evidence of associations in multiple SNPs was detected. The best overall p values were obtained for SNPs rs5030437 and rs4755453 (p=7.85×10−5 and p=4.73×10−5, respectively) without significant heterogeneity among populations (p=0.67 and p=0.50 in Q-statistic). In addition, rs540386 previously reported to be associated with RA was found to be in LD with these two SNPs (r2= 0.95) and demonstrated evidence of association with SLE in the same direction (meta-analysis p=9.15×10−4, OR=0.89, 95%CI=0.83–0.95). Thrombocytopenia improved the overall results in different populations (meta-analysis p=1.99×10−6, OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.45–0.72, for rs5030470). Finally evidence of family based association in 34 African-American pedigrees with the presence of thrombocytopenia were detected in one available SNP rs5030437 with Z score magnitude of 2.28 (p=0.02) under a dominant model.
Our data indicate the presence of association of TRAF6 with SLE in agreement with the previous report of association with RA. These data provide further support for the involvement of TRAF6 in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus
Maternal microchimerism (MMc) has been purported to play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity, but how a small number of foreign cells could contribute to chronic, systemic inflammation has not been explained. Reports of peripheral blood cells differentiating into tissue-specific cell types may shed light on the problem in that chimeric maternal cells could act as target cells within tissues. We investigated MMc in tissues from seven male infants. Female cells, presumed maternal, were characterized by simultaneous immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization for X- and Y-chromosomes. Maternal cells constituted 0.017 to 1.9% of parenchymal cells and were found in all infants in liver, pancreas, lung, kidney, bladder, skin, and spleen. Maternal cells were differentiated: maternal hepatocytes in liver, renal tubular cells in kidney, and β-islet cells in pancreas. Maternal cells were not found in areas of tissue injury or inflammatory infiltrate. Maternal hematopoietic cells were found only in hearts from patients with neonatal lupus. Thus, differentiated maternal cells are present in multiple tissue types and occur independently of inflammation or tissue injury. Loss of tolerance to maternal parenchymal cells could lead to organ-specific “auto” inflammatory disease and elimination of maternal cells in areas of inflammation.
fetal development; maternal microchimerism; differentiation; stem cells; pregnancy
The NKG2D receptor stimulates natural killer cell and T cell responses upon engagement of ligands associated with malignancies and certain autoimmune diseases. However, conditions of persistent NKG2D ligand expression can lead to immunosuppression. In cancer patients, tumor expression and shedding of the MHC class I–related chain A (MICA) ligand of NKG2D drives proliferative expansions of NKG2D+CD4+ T cells that produce interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-β, as well as Fas ligand, which inhibits bystander T cell proliferation in vitro. Here, we show that increased frequencies of functionally equivalent NKG2D+CD4+ T cells are inversely correlated with disease activity in juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), suggesting that these T cells may have regulatory effects. The NKG2D+CD4+ T cells correspond to a normally occurring small CD4 T cell subset that is autoreactive, primed to produce IL-10, and clearly distinct from proinflammatory and cytolytic CD4 T cells with cytokine-induced NKG2D expression that occur in rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. As classical regulatory T cell functions are typically impaired in SLE, it may be clinically significant that the immunosuppressive NKG2D+CD4+ T cells appear functionally uncompromised in this disease.
The Xq28 region containing IRAK1 and MECP2 has been identified as a risk locus for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in previous genetic association studies. However, due to the strong linkage disequilibrium between IRAK1 and MECP2, it remains unclear which gene is affected by the underlying causal variant(s) conferring risk of SLE.
We fine-mapped ≥136 SNPs in a ~227kb region on Xq28, containing IRAK1, MECP2 and 7 adjacent genes (L1CAM, AVPR2, ARHGAP4, NAA10, RENBP, HCFC1 and TMEM187), for association with SLE in 15,783 case-control subjects derived from 4 different ancestral groups.
Multiple SNPs showed strong association with SLE in European Americans, Asians and Hispanics at P<5×10−8 with consistent association in subjects with African ancestry. Of these, 6 SNPs located in the TMEM187-IRAK1-MECP2 region captured the underlying causal variant(s) residing in a common risk haplotype shared by all 4 ancestral groups. Among them, rs1059702 best explained the Xq28 association signals in conditional testings and exhibited the strongest P value in trans-ancestral meta-analysis (Pmeta=1.3×10−27, OR=1.43), and thus was considered to be the most-likely causal variant. The risk allele of rs1059702 results in the amino acid substitution S196F in IRAK1 and had previously been shown to increase NF-κB activity in vitro. We also found that the homozygous risk genotype of rs1059702 was associated with lower mRNA levels of MECP2, but not IRAK1, in SLE patients (P=0.0012) and healthy controls (P=0.0064).
These data suggest contributions of both IRAK1 and MECP2 to SLE susceptibility.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Gene Polymorphism; Xq28; IRAK1; MECP2
The placental barrier is not the impenetrable wall that it was once presumed to be. During pregnancy, fetal cells pass into the mother, where they persist for decades after the pregnancy, leading to fetal microchimerism (FMc). Maternal cells also pass into the fetus, where they can persist long after birth of the child into adulthood, leading to maternal microchimerism(MMc). FMc and MMc represent foreign cells, and thus have been implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases that resemble graft-versus-host disease after stem cell transplantation. FMc, hypothesized to contribute to the high predisposition of autoimmune diseases in women, has been reviewed recently. In patients who have never been pregnant, (children, males, and nulliparous females), MMc may represent the foreign cells that initiate or perpetuate chronic inflammatory disease.
We previously reported that the G allele of rs3853839 at 3′untranslated region (UTR) of Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) was associated with elevated transcript expression and increased risk for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in 9,274 Eastern Asians [P = 6.5×10−10, odds ratio (OR) (95%CI) = 1.27 (1.17–1.36)]. Here, we conducted trans-ancestral fine-mapping in 13,339 subjects including European Americans, African Americans, and Amerindian/Hispanics and confirmed rs3853839 as the only variant within the TLR7-TLR8 region exhibiting consistent and independent association with SLE (Pmeta = 7.5×10−11, OR = 1.24 [1.18–1.34]). The risk G allele was associated with significantly increased levels of TLR7 mRNA and protein in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and elevated luciferase activity of reporter gene in transfected cells. TLR7 3′UTR sequence bearing the non-risk C allele of rs3853839 matches a predicted binding site of microRNA-3148 (miR-3148), suggesting that this microRNA may regulate TLR7 expression. Indeed, miR-3148 levels were inversely correlated with TLR7 transcript levels in PBMCs from SLE patients and controls (R2 = 0.255, P = 0.001). Overexpression of miR-3148 in HEK-293 cells led to significant dose-dependent decrease in luciferase activity for construct driven by TLR7 3′UTR segment bearing the C allele (P = 0.0003). Compared with the G-allele construct, the C-allele construct showed greater than two-fold reduction of luciferase activity in the presence of miR-3148. Reduced modulation by miR-3148 conferred slower degradation of the risk G-allele containing TLR7 transcripts, resulting in elevated levels of gene products. These data establish rs3853839 of TLR7 as a shared risk variant of SLE in 22,613 subjects of Asian, EA, AA, and Amerindian/Hispanic ancestries (Pmeta = 2.0×10−19, OR = 1.25 [1.20–1.32]), which confers allelic effect on transcript turnover via differential binding to the epigenetic factor miR-3148.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a debilitating autoimmune disease contributed to by excessive innate immune activation involving toll-like receptors (TLRs, particularly TLR7/8/9) and type I interferon (IFN) signaling pathways. TLR7 responds against RNA–containing nuclear antigens and activates IFN-α pathway, playing a pivotal role in the development of SLE. While a genomic duplication of Tlr7 promotes lupus-like disease in the Y-linked autoimmune accelerator (Yaa) murine model, the lack of common copy number variations at TLR7 in humans led us to identify a functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3853839 at 3′ UTR of the TLR7 gene, associated with SLE susceptibility in Eastern Asians. In this study, we fine-mapped the TLR7-TLR8 region and confirmed rs3853839 exhibiting the strongest association with SLE in European Americans, African Americans, and Amerindian/Hispanics. Individuals carrying the risk G allele of rs3853839 exhibited increased TLR7 expression at the both mRNA and protein level and decreased transcript degradation. MicroRNA-3148 (miR-3148) downregulated the expression of non-risk allele (C) containing transcripts preferentially, suggesting a likely mechanism for increased TLR7 levels in risk-allele carriers. This trans-ancestral mapping provides evidence for the global association with SLE risk at rs3853839, which resides in a microRNA–gene regulatory site affecting TLR7 expression.
Several confirmed genetic susceptibility loci for lupus have been described. To date, no clear evidence for genetic epistasis is established in lupus. We test for gene-gene interactions in a number of known lupus susceptibility loci.
Eighteen SNPs tagging independent and confirmed lupus susceptibility loci were genotyped in a set of 4,248 lupus patients and 3,818 normal healthy controls of European descent. Epistasis was tested using a 2-step approach utilizing both parametric and non-parametric methods. The false discovery rate (FDR) method was used to correct for multiple testing.
We detected and confirmed gene-gene interactions between the HLA region and CTLA4, IRF5, and ITGAM, and between PDCD1 and IL21 in lupus patients. The most significant interaction detected by parametric analysis was between rs3131379 in the HLA region and rs231775 in CTLA4 (Interaction odds ratio=1.19, z-score= 3.95, P= 7.8×10−5 (FDR≤0.05), PMDR= 5.9×10−45). Importantly, our data suggest that in lupus patients the presence of the HLA lupus-risk alleles in rs1270942 and rs3131379 increases the odds of also carrying the lupus-risk allele in IRF5 (rs2070197) by 17% and 16%, respectively (P= 0.0028 and 0.0047).
We provide evidence for gene-gene epistasis in systemic lupus erythematosus. These findings support a role for genetic interaction contributing to the complexity of lupus heritability.
T cells from patients with SLE express increased amounts of PP2Ac which contribute to decreased production of IL-2. Because IL-2 is important in the regulation of several aspects of the immune response, it has been proposed that PP2Ac contributes to the expression of SLE. This study was designed to determine whether genetic variants of PPP2AC are linked to the expression of SLE and specific clinical manifestations and account for the increased expression of PP2Ac.
We conducted a trans-ethnic study consisting of 8,695 SLE cases and 7,308 controls from four different ancestries. Eighteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the PPP2CA were genotyped using an Illumina custom array. PPP2CA expression in SLE and control T cells was analyzed by real-time PCR.
A 32-kb haplotype comprised of multiple SNPs of PPP2CA showed significant association with SLE in Hispanic Americans (HA), European Americans (EA) and Asians but not in African-Americans (AA). Conditional analyses revealed that SNP rs7704116 in intron 1 showed consistently strong association with SLE across Asian, EA and HA populations (pmeta=3.8×10−7, OR=1.3[1.14–1.31]). In EA, the largest ethnic dataset, the risk A allele of rs7704116 was associated with the presence of renal disease, anti-dsDNA and anti-RNP antibodies. PPP2CA expression was approximately 2-fold higher in SLE patients carrying the rs7704116 AG genotype than those carrying GG genotype (p = 0.008).
Our data provide the first evidence for an association between PPP2CA polymorphisms and elevated PP2Ac transcript levels in T cells, which implicates a new molecular pathway for SLE susceptibility in EA, HA and Asians.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and organ damage. Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe manifestations of SLE. Multiple studies reported associations between renal diseases and variants in the non-muscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9) and the neighboring apolipoprotein L 1 (APOL1) genes. We evaluated 167 variants spanning MYH9 for association with LN in a multiethnic sample. The two previously identified risk variants in APOL1 were also tested for association with LN in European-Americans (EAs) (N = 579) and African-Americans (AAs) (N = 407). Multiple peaks of association exceeding a Bonferroni corrected p-value of p < 2.03 × 10−3 were observed between LN and MYH9 in EAs (N=4620), with the most pronounced association at rs2157257 (p = 4.7 × 10−4; odds ratio [OR]=1.205). A modest effect with MYH9 was also detected in Gullah (rs8136069, p = 0.0019, OR = 2.304). No association between LN and MYH9 was found in AAs, Asians, Amerindians or Hispanics. This study provides the first investigation of MYH9 in LN in non-Africans and of APOL1 in LN in any population and presents novel insight into the potential role of MYH9 in LN in EAs.
MYH9; APOL1; lupus nephritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; multiethnic association study