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1.  Use of next-generation DNA sequencing to analyze genetic variants in rheumatic disease 
Next-generation DNA sequencing has revolutionized the field of genetics and genomics, providing researchers with the tools to efficiently identify novel rare and low frequency risk variants, which was not practical with previously available methodologies. These methods allow for the sequence capture of a specific locus or small genetic region all the way up to the entire six billion base pairs of the diploid human genome.
Rheumatic diseases are a huge burden on the US population, affecting more than 46 million Americans. Those afflicted suffer from one or more of the more than 100 diseases characterized by inflammation and loss of function, mainly of the joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. While genetics studies of many of these diseases (for example, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease) have had major successes in defining their genetic architecture, causal alleles and rare variants have still been elusive. This review describes the current high-throughput DNA sequencing methodologies commercially available and their application to rheumatic diseases in both case–control as well as family-based studies.
PMCID: PMC4396863  PMID: 25789374
2.  Genome-wide association scan in women with systemic lupus erythematosus identifies susceptibility variants in ITGAM, PXK, KIAA1542 and other loci 
Nature genetics  2008;40(2):204-210.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common systemic autoimmune disease with complex etiology but strong clustering in families (λS = ~30). We performed a genome-wide association scan using 317,501 SNPs in 720 women of European ancestry with SLE and in 2,337 controls, and we genotyped consistently associated SNPs in two additional independent sample sets totaling 1,846 affected women and 1,825 controls. Aside from the expected strong association between SLE and the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and the previously confirmed non-HLA locus IRF5 on chromosome 7q32, we found evidence of association with replication (1.1 × 10−7 < Poverall < 1.6 × 10−23; odds ratio 0.82–1.62)in four regions: 16p11.2 (ITGAM), 11p15.5 (KIAA1542), 3p14.3 (PXK) and 1q25.1 (rs10798269). We also found evidence for association (P < 1 × 10−5) at FCGR2A, PTPN22 and STAT4, regions previously associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, as well as at ≥9 other loci (P < 2 × 10−7). Our results show that numerous genes, some with known immune-related functions, predispose to SLE.
PMCID: PMC3712260  PMID: 18204446
3.  Polymorphism at the TNF superfamily gene TNFSF4 confers susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus 
Nature genetics  2007;40(1):83-89.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystem complex autoimmune disease of uncertain etiology (OMIM 152700). Over recent years a genetic component to SLE susceptibility has been established1–3. Recent successes with association studies in SLE have identified genes including IRF5 (refs. 4,5) and FCGR3B6. Two tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily members located within intervals showing genetic linkage with SLE are TNFSF4 (also known as OX40L; 1q25), which is expressed on activated antigen-presenting cells (APCs)7,8 and vascular endothelial cells9, and also its unique receptor, TNFRSF4 (also known as OX40; 1p36), which is primarily expressed on activated CD4+ T cells10. TNFSF4 produces a potent co-stimulatory signal for activated CD4+ T cells after engagement of TNFRSF4 (ref. 11). Using both a family-based and a case-control study design, we show that the upstream region of TNFSF4 contains a single risk haplotype for SLE, which is correlated with increased expression of both cell-surface TNFSF4 and the TNFSF4 transcript. We hypothesize that increased expression of TNFSF4 predisposes to SLE either by quantitatively augmenting T cell–APC interaction or by influencing the functional consequences of T cell activation via TNFRSF4.
PMCID: PMC3705866  PMID: 18059267
4.  Analysis of autosomal genes reveals gene–sex interactions and higher total genetic risk in men with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(5):694-699.
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.
PMCID: PMC3324666  PMID: 22110124
5.  IRF5 haplotypes demonstrate diverse serological associations which predict serum interferon alpha activity and explain the majority of the genetic association with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(3):463-468.
High serum interferon α (IFNα) activity is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Auto-antibodies found in SLE form immune complexes which can stimulate IFNα production by activating endosomal Toll-like receptors and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), including IRF5. Genetic variation in IRF5 is associated with SLE susceptibility; however, it is unclear how IRF5 functional genetic elements contribute to human disease.
1034 patients with SLE and 989 controls of European ancestry, 555 patients with SLE and 679 controls of African–American ancestry, and 73 patients with SLE of South African ancestry were genotyped at IRF5 polymorphisms, which define major haplotypes. Serum IFNα activity was measured using a functional assay.
In European ancestry subjects, anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and anti-Ro antibodies were each associated with different haplotypes characterised by a different combination of functional genetic elements (OR > 2.56, p >003C; 1.9×10−14 for both). These IRF5 haplotype-auto-antibody associations strongly predicted higher serum IFNα in patients with SLE and explained > 70% of the genetic risk of SLE due to IRF5. In African–American patients with SLE a similar relationship between serology and IFNα was observed, although the previously described European ancestry-risk haplotype was present at admixture proportions in African–American subjects and absent in African patients with SLE.
The authors define a novel risk haplotype of IRF5 that is associated with anti-dsDNA antibodies and show that risk of SLE due to IRF5 genotype is largely dependent upon particular auto-antibodies. This suggests that auto-antibodies are directly pathogenic in human SLE, resulting in increased IFNα in cooperation with particular combinations of IRF5 functional genetic elements.
SLE is a systemic autoimmune disorder affecting multiple organ systems including the skin, musculoskeletal, renal and haematopoietic systems. Humoral autoimmunity is a hallmark of SLE, and patients frequently have circulating auto-antibodies directed against dsDNA, as well as RNA binding proteins (RBP). Anti-RBP autoantibodies include antibodies which recognize Ro, La, Smith (anti-Sm), and ribonucleoprotein (anti-nRNP), collectively referred to as anti-retinol-binding protein). Anti-retinol-binding protein and anti-dsDNA auto-antibodies are rare in the healthy population.1 These auto-antibodies can be present in sera for years preceding the onset of clinical SLE illness2 and are likely pathogenic in SLE.34
PMCID: PMC3307526  PMID: 22088620
6.  The Genomics of Autoimmune Disease in the Era of Genome-Wide Association Studies and Beyond 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2011;11(4):267-275.
Recent advances in the field of genetics have dramatically changed our understanding of autoimmune disease. Candidate gene and, more recently, genome-wide association (GWA) studies have led to an explosion in the number of loci and pathways known to contribute to autoimmune phenotypes. Since the 1970s, researchers have known that several alleles in the MHC region play a role in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases. More recent work has identified numerous risk loci involving both the innate and adaptive immune responses. However, much remains to be learned about the heritability of autoimmune conditions. Most regions found through GWA scans have yet to isolate the association to the causal allele(s) responsible for conferring disease risk. A role for rare variants (allele frequencies of <1%) has begun to emerge. Future research will use next generation sequencing (NGS) technology to comprehensively evaluate the human genome for risk variants. Whole transcriptome sequencing is now possible, which will provide much more detailed gene expression data. The dramatic drop in the cost and time required to sequence the entire human genome will ultimately make it possible for this technology to be used as a clinical diagnostic tool.
PMCID: PMC3288956  PMID: 22001415
Genetics; Genomics; Genome-wide association study; Autoimmune disease
7.  Variation in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus susceptibility in multiple ancestries 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(11):1809-1814.
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.
PMCID: PMC3466387  PMID: 22523428
8.  Phenotypic associations of genetic susceptibility loci in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2011;70(10):1752-1757.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a clinically heterogeneous autoimmune disease. A number of genetic loci that increase lupus susceptibility have been established. This study examines if these genetic loci also contribute to the clinical heterogeneity in lupus.
Materials and methods
4001 European-derived, 1547 Hispanic, 1590 African-American and 1191 Asian lupus patients were genotyped for 16 confirmed lupus susceptibility loci. Ancestry informative markers were genotyped to calculate and adjust for admixture. The association between the risk allele in each locus was determined and compared in patients with and without the various clinical manifestations included in the ACR criteria.
Renal disorder was significantly correlated with the lupus risk allele in ITGAM (p=5.0×10−6, OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.35) and in TNFSF4 (p=0.0013, OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.25). Other significant findings include the association between risk alleles in FCGR2A and malar rash (p=0.0031, OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.33), ITGAM and discoid rash (p=0.0020, OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.33), STAT4 and protection from oral ulcers (p=0.0027, OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.83 to 0.96) and IL21 and haematological disorder (p=0.0027, OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.22). All these associations are significant with a false discovery rate of <0.05 and pass the significance threshold using Bonferroni correction for multiple testing.
Significant associations were found between lupus clinical manifestations and the FCGR2A, ITGAM, STAT4, TNSF4 and IL21 genes. The findings suggest that genetic profiling might be a useful tool to predict disease manifestations in lupus patients in the future.
PMCID: PMC3232181  PMID: 21719445
9.  Contributions of mass spectrometry-based proteomics to defining cellular mechanisms and diagnostic markers for systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex disease for which molecular diagnostics are limited and pathogenesis is not clearly understood. Important information is provided in this regard by identification and characterization of more specific molecular and cellular targets in SLE immune cells and target tissue and markers of early-onset and effective response to treatment of SLE complications. In recent years, advances in proteomic technologies and applications have facilitated such discoveries. Here we provide a review of insights into SLE pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment that have been provided by mass spectrometry-based proteomic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3392812  PMID: 22364570
10.  Fragmentation of the large subunit ribosomal RNA gene in oyster mitochondrial genomes 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:485.
Discontinuous genes have been observed in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotic nuclei, mitochondria and chloroplasts. Gene discontinuity occurs in multiple forms: the two most frequent forms result from introns that are spliced out of the RNA and the resulting exons are spliced together to form a single transcript, and fragmented gene transcripts that are not covalently attached post-transcriptionally. Within the past few years, fragmented ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes have been discovered in bilateral metazoan mitochondria, all within a group of related oysters.
In this study, we have characterized this fragmentation with comparative analysis and experimentation. We present secondary structures, modeled using comparative sequence analysis of the discontinuous mitochondrial large subunit rRNA genes of the cupped oysters C. virginica, C. gigas, and C. hongkongensis. Comparative structure models for the large subunit rRNA in each of the three oyster species are generally similar to those for other bilateral metazoans. We also used RT-PCR and analyzed ESTs to determine if the two fragmented LSU rRNAs are spliced together. The two segments are transcribed separately, and not spliced together although they still form functional rRNAs and ribosomes.
Although many examples of discontinuous ribosomal genes have been documented in bacteria and archaea, as well as the nuclei, chloroplasts, and mitochondria of eukaryotes, oysters are some of the first characterized examples of fragmented bilateral animal mitochondrial rRNA genes. The secondary structures of the oyster LSU rRNA fragments have been predicted on the basis of previous comparative metazoan mitochondrial LSU rRNA structure models.
PMCID: PMC2996981  PMID: 20813041
11.  Genetic Associations of LYN with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):397-403.
We targeted LYN, a src-tyosine kinase involved in B cell activation, in case-control association studies using populations of European American, African American and Korean subjects. Our combined European-derived population, consisting of 2463 independent cases and 3131 unrelated controls, demonstrates significant association with rs6983130 in a female-only analysis with 2254 cases and 2228 controls (p=1.1 × 10−4, OR=0.81 (95% CI: 0.73 – 0.90)). This SNP is located in the 5′ UTR within the first intron near the transcription initiation site of LYN. Additional SNPs upstream of the first exon also show weak and sporadic association in subsets of the total European American population. Multivariate logistic regression analysis implicates rs6983130 as a protective factor for SLE susceptibility when anti-dsDNA, anti-chromatin, anti-52 kDa Ro or anti-Sm autoantibody status were used as covariates. Subset analysis of the European American female cases by ACR classification criteria reveals a reduction in the risk of hematologic disorder with rs6983130 compared to cases without hematologic disorders (p=1.5 × 10−3, OR=0.75 (95% C.I.=0.62-0.89)). None of the 90 SNPs tested demonstrate significant association with SLE in the African American or Korean populations. These results support an association of LYN with European-derived individuals with SLE, especially within autoantibody or clinical subsets.
PMCID: PMC2750001  PMID: 19369946
systemic lupus erythematosus; association; LYN; SNP
12.  Replication of the BANK1 genetic association with systemic lupus erythematosus in a European-Derived Population 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(5):531-538.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with highly variable clinical presentation. Patients suffer from immunological abnormalities that target T cell, B cell and accessory cell functions. B cells are hyperactive in SLE patients. An adaptor protein expressed in B cells called BANK1 (B-cell scaffold protein with ankyrin repeats) was reported in a previous study to be associated with SLE in a European population. The objective of this study is to assess the BANK1 genotype-phenotype association in an independent replication sample. We genotyped 38 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in BANK1 on 1892 European-derived SLE patients and 2652 European-derived controls. The strongest associations with SLE and BANK1 were at rs17266594 (corrected p-value=1.97 × 10−5, OR=1.22, 95% C.I.(1.12–1.34)) and rs10516487 (corrected p-value=2.59 × 10−5, OR=1.22, 95% C.I.(1.11–1.34)). Our findings suggest that the association is explained by these two SNPs, confirming previous reports that these polymorphisms contribute to the risk of developing lupus. Analysis of patient subsets enriched for hematological, immunological and renal ACR criteria or the levels of autoantibodies, such as anti-RNP A and anti-SmRNP, uncovers additional BANK1 associations. Our results suggest that BANK1 polymorphisms alter immune system development and function to increase the risk for developing lupus.
PMCID: PMC2736873  PMID: 19339986
systemic lupus erythematosus; replication; association; European; BANK1
13.  Genetic linkage and transmission disequilibrium of marker haplotypes at chromosome 1q41 in human systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research  2001;3(5):299-305.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies to a wide range of self-antigens. Recent genome screens have implicated numerous chromosomal regions as potential SLE susceptibility loci. Among these, the 1q41 locus is of particular interest, because evidence for linkage has been found in several independent SLE family collections. Additionally, the 1q41 locus appears to be syntenic with a susceptibility interval identified in the NZM2410 mouse model for SLE. Here, we report the results of genotyping of 11 microsatellite markers within the 1q41 region in 210 SLE sibpair and 122 SLE trio families. These data confirm the modest evidence for linkage at 1q41 in our family collection (LOD = 1.21 at marker D1S2616). Evidence for significant linkage disequilibrium in this interval was also found. Multiple markers in the region exhibit transmission disequilibrium, with the peak single marker multiallelic linkage disequilibrium noted at D1S490 (pedigree disequilibrium test [PDT] global P value = 0.0091). Two- and three-marker haplotypes from the 1q41 region similarly showed strong transmission distortion in the collection of 332 SLE families. The finding of linkage together with significant transmission disequilibrium provides strong evidence for a susceptibility locus at 1q41 in human SLE.
PMCID: PMC64842  PMID: 11549371
1q41; autoimmunity; linkage; systemic lupus erythematosus; transmission disequilibrium

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