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1.  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.
doi:10.1038/ng.81
PMCID: PMC3712260  PMID: 18204446
2.  Lupus-like autoantibody development in rabbits and mice after immunization with EBNA-1 fragments 
Journal of autoimmunity  2008;31(4):362-371.
Epstein-Barr virus has been implicated in the etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) through serologic and immunologic studies. A potential mechanism for this influence is through molecular mimicry. The EBV nuclear antigen EBNA-1 contains a region, PPPGRRP, with considerable homology to the initial sequence targeted by antibodies in Sm B’ autoimmunity, PPPGMRPP. This study examined whether immunization of rabbits and mice with peptides containing the PPPGRRP sequence from EBNA-1 constructed on a poly-lysine backbone was able to drive the development of autoantibodies against the Smith antigen (Sm) and the related antigenic complex, the U1 nuclear ribonucleoproteins (nRNP). PPPGRRP immunization, and immunization with an EBNA-1 fragment containing PPPGRRP, led to autoantibodies in both rabbits and mice at high frequency (83% of rabbits and 43% of mice). Five out of six immunized rabbits developed either leucopenia or lymphopenia or both. The fine specificity of antibody binding against the lupus-associated autoantigens Sm B’, nRNP A, and nRNP C after immunization with the EBNA-1-derived peptides was very similar to the early antibody binding patterns against these proteins in human SLE. This similarity, as well as the prevalence of autoimmunity after immunization with these peptides, identifies PPPGRRP as a strong candidate for molecular mimicry in SLE etiology.
doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2008.08.007
PMCID: PMC2852321  PMID: 18849143
autoantibodies; molecular mimicry; systemic lupus erythematosus; Epstein-Barr virus
3.  Sequential B-Cell Epitopes of Bacillus anthracis Lethal Factor Bind Lethal Toxin-Neutralizing Antibodies▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;77(1):162-169.
The bipartite anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx) consisting of protective antigen (PA) and lethal factor (LF) is a major virulence factor contributing to death from systemic Bacillus anthracis infection. The current vaccine elicits antibodies directed primarily to PA; however, in experimental settings serologic responses to LF can neutralize LeTx and contribute to protection against infection. The goals of the present study were to identify sequential B-cell epitopes of LF and to determine the capacity of these determinants to bind neutralizing antibodies. Sera of recombinant LF-immunized A/J mice exhibited high titers of immunoglobulin G anti-LF reactivity that neutralized LeTx in vitro 78 days after the final booster immunization and protected the mice from in vivo challenge with 3 50% lethal doses of LeTx. These sera bound multiple discontinuous epitopes, and there were major clusters of reactivity on native LF. Strikingly, all three neutralizing, LF-specific monoclonal antibodies tested bound specific peptide sequences that coincided with sequential epitopes identified in polyclonal antisera from recombinant LF-immunized mice. This study confirms that LF induces high-titer protective antibodies in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the binding of short LF peptides by LF-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibodies suggests that generation of protective antibodies by peptide vaccination may be feasible for this antigen. This study paves the way for a more effective anthrax vaccine by identifying discontinuous peptide epitopes of LF.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00788-08
PMCID: PMC2612257  PMID: 18981257
4.  RAPID CLONING OF HIGH AFFINITY HUMAN MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES AGAINST INFLUENZA VIRUS 
Nature  2008;453(7195):667-671.
Pre-existing neutralizing antibody provides the first line of defense against pathogens in general. For influenza virus, annual vaccinations are given to maintain protective levels of antibody against the currently circulating strains. Here we report that after booster vaccination there was a rapid and robust influenza-specific IgG+ antibody-secreting plasma cell (ASC) response that peaked at approximately day 7 and accounted for up to 6% of peripheral blood B cells. These ASCs could be distinguished from influenza-specific IgG+ memory B cells that peaked 14 to 21 days after vaccination and averaged 1% of all B cells. Importantly, as much as 80% of ASCs purified at the peak of the response were influenza specific. This ASC response was characterized by a highly restricted B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire that in some donors were dominated by only a few B cell clones. This pauci-clonal response, however, showed extensive intraclonal diversification from accumulated somatic mutations. We used the immunoglobulin variable regions isolated from sorted single ASCs to produce over fifty human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that bound to the three influenza vaccine strains with high affinity. This strategy demonstrates that we can generate multiple high affinity mAbs from humans within a month after vaccination. The panel of influenza virus specific human mAbs allowed us to address the issue of original antigenic sin (OAS) - the phenomenon where the induced antibody shows higher affinity to a previously encountered influenza virus strain compared to the virus strain present in the vaccine1. However, we found that the vast majority of the influenza virus specific mAbs showed the highest affinity for the current vaccine strain. Thus, OAS does not seem to be a common occurrence in normal healthy adults receiving influenza vaccination.
doi:10.1038/nature06890
PMCID: PMC2515609  PMID: 18449194
5.  Recent Advances and Opportunities in Research on Lupus: Environmental Influences and Mechanisms of Disease 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(6):695-702.
Objectives
In this review we summarize research on mechanisms through which environmental agents may affect the pathogenesis of lupus, discuss three exposures that have been the focus of research in this area, and propose recommendations for new research initiatives.
Data sources and synthesis
We examined studies pertaining to key mechanistic events and specific exposures. Apoptosis leading to increased production or decreased clearance of immunogenic intracellular self-antigens and defective apoptosis of autoreactive immune cells both have been implicated in the loss of self-tolerance. The adjuvant or bystander effect is also needed to produce a sustained autoimmune response. Activation of toll-like receptors is one mechanism through which these effects may occur. Abnormal DNA methylation may also contribute to the pathogenesis of lupus. Each of the specific exposures we examined—Epstein-Barr virus, silica, and trichloroethylene—has been shown, in humans or in mice, to act upon one or more of these pathogenic steps. Specific recommendations for the continued advancement of our understanding of environmental influences on lupus and other autoimmune diseases include the development and use of mouse models with varying degrees of penetrance and manifestations of disease, identification of molecular or physiologic targets of specific exposures, development and use of improved exposure assessment methodologies, and multisite collaborations designed to examine understudied environmental exposures in humans.
Conclusions
The advances made in the past decade concerning our understanding of mechanisms involved in the development of lupus and the influence of environmental agents on this process provide a strong foundation for further developments in this field.
doi:10.1289/ehp.11092
PMCID: PMC2430222  PMID: 18560522
adjuvant effect; apoptosis; autoimmune diseases; bystander effect; demethylation; epigenetics; Epstein-Barr virus; silica; systemic lupus erythematosus; trichloroethylene
6.  Osteopontin and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Association: A Probable Gene-Gender Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1757.
Osteopontin (SPP1) is an important bone matrix mediator found to have key roles in inflammation and immunity. SPP1 genetic polymorphisms and increased osteopontin protein levels have been reported to be associated with SLE in small patient collections. The present study evaluates association between SPP1 polymorphisms and SLE in a large cohort of 1141 unrelated SLE patients [707 European-American (EA) and 434 African-American (AA)], and 2009 unrelated controls (1309 EA and 700 AA). Population-based case-control association analyses were performed. To control for potential population stratification, admixture adjusted logistic regression, genomic control (GC), structured association (STRAT), and principal components analysis (PCA) were applied. Combined analysis of 2 ethnic groups, showed the minor allele of 2 SNPs (rs1126616T and rs9138C) significantly associated with higher risk of SLE in males (P = 0.0005, OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.28–2.33), but not in females. Indeed, significant gene-gender interactions in the 2 SNPs, rs1126772 and rs9138, were detected (P = 0.001 and P = 0.0006, respectively). Further, haplotype analysis identified rs1126616T-rs1126772A-rs9138C which demonstrated significant association with SLE in general (P = 0.02, OR = 1.30, 95%CI 1.08–1.57), especially in males (P = 0.0003, OR = 2.42, 95%CI 1.51–3.89). Subgroup analysis with single SNPs and haplotypes also identified a similar pattern of gender-specific association in AA and EA. GC, STRAT, and PCA results within each group showed consistent associations. Our data suggest SPP1 is associated with SLE, and this association is especially stronger in males. To our knowledge, this report serves as the first association of a specific autosomal gene with human male lupus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001757
PMCID: PMC2258418  PMID: 18335026
7.  Common Variants within MECP2 Confer Risk of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1727.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a predominantly female autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems. Herein, we report on an X-chromosome gene association with SLE. Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) is located on chromosome Xq28 and encodes for a protein that plays a critical role in epigenetic transcriptional regulation of methylation-sensitive genes. Utilizing a candidate gene association approach, we genotyped 21 SNPs within and around MECP2 in SLE patients and controls. We identify and replicate association between SLE and the genomic element containing MECP2 in two independent SLE cohorts from two ethnically divergent populations. These findings are potentially related to the overexpression of methylation-sensitive genes in SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001727
PMCID: PMC2253825  PMID: 18320046

Results 1-7 (7)