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1.  Most Common SNPs Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Subjects of European Ancestry Confer Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in African-Americans 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2010;62(12):3547-3553.
Large-scale genetic association studies have identified over 20 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk alleles among individuals of European ancestry. The influence of these risk alleles has not been comprehensively studied in African-Americans. We therefore sought to examine whether these validated RA risk alleles are associated with RA in an African-American population.
27 candidate SNPs were genotyped in 556 autoantibody-positive African-Americans with RA and 791 healthy African-American controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each SNP were compared to previously published ORs of RA patients of European ancestry. We then calculated a composite Genetic Risk Score (GRS) for each individual based on the sum of all risk alleles.
There was overlap in the OR and 95% CI between the European and African-American populations in 24 of the 27 candidate SNPs. Conversely, 3 of the 27 SNPs (CCR6 rs3093023, TAGAP rs394581, TNFAIP3 rs6920220) demonstrated an OR in the opposite direction from those reported in RA patients of European ancestry. The GRS analysis indicated a small but highly significant probability that African-American cases were enriched for the European RA risk alleles relative to controls (p=0.00005).
The majority of RA risk alleles previously validated among European ancestry RA patients showed similar ORs in our population of African-Americans with RA. Furthermore, the aggregate GRS supports the hypothesis that these SNPs are risk alleles for RA in the African-American population. Future large-scale genetic studies are needed to validate these risk alleles and identify novel risk alleles for RA in African-Americans.
PMCID: PMC3030622  PMID: 21120996
2.  A higher degree of methylation of the HPV 16 E6 gene is associated with a lower likelihood of being diagnosed with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 
Cancer  2010;117(5):957-963.
Even though HPV 16 is the most common HPV genotype associated with cancerous lesions of the cervix, only a fraction of HPV 16 infected women are diagnosed with pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix. Therefore, molecular changes in HPV 16 rather than infections per se may serve as better screening or diagnostic biomarkers. The purpose of the study was to evaluate whether methylation status of specific regions of the HPV E6 gene promoter and enhancer is independently associated with the likelihood of being diagnosed with higher grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2+).
The study included 75 HPV 16 positive women diagnosed with CIN 2+ or ≤ CIN 1. Pyrosequencing technology was applied to quantify methylation at 6 cytosine guanine dinucleotide (CpG) sites of the HPV 16 E6 promoter and enhancer. CIN 2+ (yes/no) was the dependent variable in logistic regression models that specified the degree of methylation of the CpG sites of the HPV 16 E6 gene as the primary independent predictors. All models were adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, known risk factors for cervical cancer and circulating concentrations of “cancer-protective” micronutrients.
The odds of being diagnosed with CIN 2+ was 79% lower when the degree of methylation of the HPV 16 enhancer and promoter sites were ≥9.5% (OR= 0.21; 95% CI, 0.06–0.79; P=0.02).
Results suggested that CpG methylation is independently involved in the biology of HPV-16 as well as in the development of higher grades of CIN.
PMCID: PMC3023831  PMID: 20945322
HPV 16; methylation; cervical; neoplasia
3.  Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency–Related Alleles Z and S and the Risk of Wegener’s Granulomatosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(12):3760-3767.
Deficiency of α1-antitrypsin (α1AT) may be a determinant of susceptibility to Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG). Several previous, mainly small, case–control studies have shown that 5–27% of patients with WG carried the α1AT deficiency Z allele. It is not clear whether the S allele, the other major α1AT deficiency variant, is associated with WG. This study investigated the relationship of the α1AT deficiency Z and S alleles with the risk of developing WG in a large cohort.
We studied the distribution of the α1AT deficiency alleles Z and S in 433 unrelated Caucasian patients with WG and 421 ethnically matched controls. Genotyping was performed using an allele discrimination assay. Results were compared between cases and controls using exact statistical methods.
Among the patients with WG, the allele carriage frequencies of Z and S were 7.4% and 11.5%, respectively. The frequencies of the 6 possible genotypes differed in a statistically significant manner between cases and controls (P = 0.01). The general genetic 2-parameter codominant model provided the best fit to the data. Compared with the normal MM genotype, the odds ratio (OR) for MZ or MS genotypes was 1.47 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.98–2.22), and the OR for ZZ, SS, or SZ genotypes was 14.58 (95% CI 2.33–∞). ORs of similar direction and magnitude were observed within the restricted cohorts that excluded cases and controls carrying ≥1 Z or ≥1 S allele.
Both Z and S alleles display associations with risk of WG in a codominant genetic pattern. These findings strengthen the evidence of a causal link between α1AT deficiency and susceptibility to WG.
PMCID: PMC3123032  PMID: 20827781
5.  The Non-Muscle Myosin Heavy Chain 9 Gene (MYH9) Is Not Associated with Lupus Nephritis in African Americans 
American Journal of Nephrology  2010;32(1):66-72.
African Americans (AA) disproportionately develop lupus nephritis (LN) relative to European Americans and familial clustering supports causative genes. Since MYH9 underlies approximately 40% of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in AA, we tested for genetic association with LN.
Seven MYH9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the E1 risk haplotype were tested for association with LN in three cohorts of AA.
A preliminary analysis revealed that the MYH9 E1 risk haplotype was associated with ESRD in 25 cases with presumed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-associated ESRD, compared to 735 non-SLE controls (odds ratio 3.1; p = 0.010 recessive). Replication analyses were performed in 583 AA with SLE in the PROFILE cohort (318 with LN; 265 with SLE but without nephropathy) and 60 AA from the NIH (39 with LN; 21 with SLE but without nephropathy). Analysis of the NIH and larger PROFILE cohorts, as well as a combined analysis, did not support this association.
These results suggest that AA with ESRD and coincident SLE who were recruited from dialysis clinics more likely have kidney diseases in the MYH9-associated spectrum of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. PROFILE and NIH participants, recruited from rheumatology practices, demonstrate that MYH9 does not contribute substantially to the development of LN in AA.
PMCID: PMC2914393  PMID: 20523037
African Americans; Genetics; Lupus nephritis; Kidney; MYH9; Systemic lupus erythematosus
6.  Pathways: Strategies for Susceptibility Genes in SLE 
Autoimmunity reviews  2010;9(7):473-476.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disorder marked by an inappropriate immune response to nuclear antigens. Recent whole genome association and more focused studies have revealed numerous genes implicated in this disease process, including ITGAM, Fc gamma receptors, complement components, C-reactive protein, and others. One common feature of these molecules is their involvement in the immune opsonins pathway and phagocytic clearing of nuclear antigens and apoptotic debris which provide excessive exposure of lupus-related antigens to immune cells. Analysis of gene-gene interactions in the opsonin pathway and its relationship to SLE may provide a systems-based approach to identify additional candidate genes associated with disease able to account for a larger part of lupus susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2868085  PMID: 20144911
SLE; opsonin; pathway; genetic association
7.  The Role of Genetic Variation Near Interferon-Kappa in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by increased type I interferons (IFNs) and multiorgan inflammation frequently targeting the skin. IFN-kappa is a type I IFN expressed in skin. A pooled genome-wide scan implicated the IFNK locus in SLE susceptibility. We studied IFNK single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 3982 SLE cases and 4275 controls, composed of European (EA), African-American (AA), and Asian ancestry. rs12553951C was associated with SLE in EA males (odds ratio = 1.93, P = 2.5 × 10−4), but not females. Suggestive associations with skin phenotypes in EA and AA females were found, and these were also sex-specific. IFNK SNPs were associated with increased serum type I IFN in EA and AA SLE patients. Our data suggest a sex-dependent association between IFNK SNPs and SLE and skin phenotypes. The serum IFN association suggests that IFNK variants could influence type I IFN producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells in affected skin.
PMCID: PMC2914299  PMID: 20706608
8.  Variations in CCL3L gene cluster sequence and non-specific gene copy numbers 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:74.
Copy number variations (CNVs) of the gene CC chemokine ligand 3-like1 (CCL3L1) have been implicated in HIV-1 susceptibility, but the association has been inconsistent. CCL3L1 shares homology with a cluster of genes localized to chromosome 17q12, namely CCL3, CCL3L2, and, CCL3L3. These genes are involved in host defense and inflammatory processes. Several CNV assays have been developed for the CCL3L1 gene.
Through pairwise and multiple alignments of these genes, we have shown that the homology between these genes ranges from 50% to 99% in complete gene sequences and from 70-100% in the exonic regions, with CCL3L1 and CCL3L3 being identical. By use of MEGA 4 and BioEdit, we aligned sense primers, anti-sense primers, and probes used in several previously described assays against pre-multiple alignments of all four chemokine genes. Each set of probes and primers aligned and matched with overlapping sequences in at least two of the four genes, indicating that previously utilized RT-PCR based CNV assays are not specific for only CCL3L1. The four available assays measured median copies of 2 and 3-4 in European and African American, respectively. The concordance between the assays ranged from 0.44-0.83 suggesting individual discordant calls and inconsistencies with the assays from the expected gene coverage from the known sequence.
This indicates that some of the inconsistencies in the association studies could be due to assays that provide heterogenous results. Sequence information to determine CNV of the three genes separately would allow to test whether their association with the pathogenesis of a human disease or phenotype is affected by an individual gene or by a combination of these genes.
PMCID: PMC2851716  PMID: 20233400

Results 1-8 (8)