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1.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069404
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
2.  Genomic Copy Number Variants: Evidence for Association with Antibody Response to Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64813.
Background
Anthrax and its etiologic agent remain a biological threat. Anthrax vaccine is highly effective, but vaccine-induced IgG antibody responses vary widely following required doses of vaccinations. Such variation can be related to genetic factors, especially genomic copy number variants (CNVs) that are known to be enriched among genes with immunologic function. We have tested this hypothesis in two study populations from a clinical trial of anthrax vaccination.
Methods
We performed CNV-based genome-wide association analyses separately on 794 European Americans and 200 African-Americans. Antibodies to protective antigen were measured at week 8 (early response) and week 30 (peak response) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We used DNA microarray data (Affymetrix 6.0) and two CNV detection algorithms, hidden markov model (PennCNV) and circular binary segmentation (GeneSpring) to determine CNVs in all individuals. Multivariable regression analyses were used to identify CNV-specific associations after adjusting for relevant non-genetic covariates.
Results
Within the 22 autosomal chromosomes, 2,943 non-overlapping CNV regions were detected by both algorithms. Genomic insertions containing HLA-DRB5, DRB1 and DQA1/DRA genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region (chromosome 6p21.3) were moderately associated with elevated early antibody response (β = 0.14, p = 1.78×10−3) among European Americans, and the strongest association was observed between peak antibody response and a segmental insertion on chromosome 1, containing NBPF4, NBPF5, STXMP3, CLCC1, and GPSM2 genes (β = 1.66, p = 6.06×10−5). For African-Americans, segmental deletions spanning PRR20, PCDH17 and PCH68 genes on chromosome 13 were associated with elevated early antibody production (β = 0.18, p = 4.47×10−5). Population-specific findings aside, one genomic insertion on chromosome 17 (containing NSF, ARL17 and LRRC37A genes) was associated with elevated peak antibody response in both populations.
Conclusion
Multiple CNV regions, including the one consisting of MHC genes that is consistent with earlier research, can be important to humoral immune responses to anthrax vaccine adsorbed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064813
PMCID: PMC3669407  PMID: 23741398
3.  Human FasL Gene Is a Target of β-Catenin/T-Cell Factor Pathway and Complex FasL Haplotypes Alter Promoter Functions 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26143.
FasL expression on human immune cells and cancer cells plays important roles in immune homeostasis and in cancer development. Our previous study suggests that polymorphisms in the FasL promoter can significantly affect the gene expression in human cells. In addition to the functional FasL SNP -844C>T (rs763110), three other SNPs (SNP -756A>G or rs2021837, SNP -478A>T or rs41309790, and SNP -205 C>G or rs74124371) exist in the proximal FasL promoter. In the current study, we established three major FasL hyplotypes in humans. Interestingly, a transcription motif search revealed that the FasL promoter possessed two consensus T-cell factor (TCF/LEF1) binding elements (TBEs), which is either polymorphic (SNP -205C>G) or close to the functional SNP -844C>T. Subsequently, we demonstrate that both FasL TBEs formed complexes with the TCF-4 and β-catenin transcription factors in vitro and in vivo. Co-transfection of LEF-1 and β-catenin transcription factors significantly increased FasL promoter activities, suggesting that FasL is a target gene of the β-catenin/T-cell factor pathway. More importantly, we found that the rare allele (-205G) of the polymorphic FasL TBE (SNP -205C>G) failed to bind the TCF-4 transcription factor and that SNP -205 C>G significantly affected the promoter activity. Furthermore, promoter reporter assays revealed that FasL SNP haplotypes influenced promoter activities in human colon cancer cells and in human T cells. Finally, β-catenin knockdown significantly decreased the FasL expression in human SW480 colon cancer cells. Collectively, our data suggest that β-catenin may be involved in FasL gene regulation and that FasL expression is influenced by FasL SNP haplotypes, which may have significant implications in immune response and tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026143
PMCID: PMC3191176  PMID: 22022540

Results 1-3 (3)