Publications by authors named "Fina Kurreeman"

39 Publications

Long noncoding RNA H19X is a key mediator of TGF-β-driven fibrosis.

J Clin Invest 2020 09;130(9):4888-4905

Center of Experimental Rheumatology, Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

TGF-β is a master regulator of fibrosis, driving the differentiation of fibroblasts into apoptosis-resistant myofibroblasts and sustaining the production of extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Here, we identified the nuclear long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) H19X as a master regulator of TGF-β-driven tissue fibrosis. H19X was consistently upregulated in a wide variety of human fibrotic tissues and diseases and was strongly induced by TGF-β, particularly in fibroblasts and fibroblast-related cells. Functional experiments following H19X silencing revealed that H19X was an obligatory factor for TGF-β-induced ECM synthesis as well as differentiation and survival of ECM-producing myofibroblasts. We showed that H19X regulates DDIT4L gene expression, specifically interacting with a region upstream of the DDIT4L gene and changing the chromatin accessibility of a DDIT4L enhancer. These events resulted in transcriptional repression of DDIT4L and, in turn, in increased collagen expression and fibrosis. Our results shed light on key effectors of TGF-β-induced ECM remodeling and fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI135439DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456219PMC
September 2020

Systematic genetic analysis of early-onset gout: ABCG2 is the only associated locus.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2020 09;59(9):2544-2549

Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, AucklandNew Zealand.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether serum urate-associated genetic variants are associated with early-onset gout.

Methods: Participants with gout in the Genetics of Gout in Aotearoa study with available genotyping were included (n = 1648). Early-onset gout was defined as the first presentation of gout <40 years of age. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the 10 loci most strongly associated with serum urate were genotyped. Allelic association of the SNPs with early-onset gout was tested using logistic regression in an unadjusted model and in a model adjusted for sex, body mass index, tophus presence, flare frequency, serum creatinine and highest serum urate. The analysis was also done in two replication cohorts: Eurogout (n = 704) and Ardea (n = 755), and data were meta-analysed.

Results: In the Genetics of Gout in Aotearoa study, there were 638 (42.4%) participants with early-onset gout. The ABCG2 rs2231142 gout risk T-allele was present more frequently in participants with early-onset gout compared with the later-onset group. For the other SNPs tested, no differences in risk allele number were observed. In the allelic association analysis, the ABCG2 rs2231142 T-allele was associated with early-onset gout in unadjusted and adjusted models. Analysis of the replication cohorts confirmed the association of early-onset gout with the ABCG2 rs2231142 T-allele, but not with other serum urate-associated SNPs. In the meta-analysis, the odds ratio (95% CI) for early-onset gout for the ABCG2 rs2231142 T-allele was 1.60 (1.41, 1.83).

Conclusion: In contrast to other serum urate-raising variants, the ABCG2 rs2231142 T-allele is strongly associated with early-onset gout.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kez685DOI Listing
September 2020

OTUD6B-AS1 Might Be a Novel Regulator of Apoptosis in Systemic Sclerosis.

Front Immunol 2019 17;10:1100. Epub 2019 May 17.

Department of Rheumatology, Center of Experimental Rheumatology, University Hospital Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Antisense long non-coding RNAs (AS lncRNAs) have increasingly been recognized as important regulators of gene expression and they have been found to play key roles in several diseases. However, very little is known about the role of AS lncRNAs in fibrotic diseases such as systemic sclerosis (SSc). Our recent screening experiments by RNA sequencing showed that ovarian tumor domain containing 6B antisense RNA1 (OTUD6B-AS1) and its sense gene OTUD6B were significantly downregulated in SSc skin biopsies. Therefore, we aimed to identify key regulators of OTUD6B-AS1 and to analyze the functional relevance of OTUD6B-AS1 in SSc. OTUD6B-AS1 and OTUD6B expression in SSc and healthy control (HC) dermal fibroblasts (Fb) after stimulation with transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ), Interleukin (IL)-4, IL-13, and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) was analyzed by qPCR. To identify the functional role of OTUD6B-AS1, dermal Fb or human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (HPASMC) were transfected with a locked nucleic acid antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) targeting OTUD6B-AS1. Proliferation was measured by BrdU and real-time proliferation assay. Apoptosis was measured by Caspase 3/7 assay and Western blot for cleaved caspase 3. While no difference was recorded at the basal level between HC and SSc dermal Fb, the expression of OTUD6B-AS1 and OTUD6B was significantly downregulated in both SSc and HC dermal Fb after PDGF stimulation in a time-dependent manner. Only mild and inconsistent effects were observed with TGFβ, IL-4, and IL-13. OTUD6B-AS1 knockdown in Fb and HPASMC did not affect extracellular matrix or pro-fibrotic/proinflammatory cytokine production. However, OTUD6B-AS1 knockdown significantly increased Cyclin D1 expression at the mRNA and protein level. Moreover, silencing of OTUD6B-AS1 significantly reduced proliferation and suppressed apoptosis in both dermal Fb and HPASMC. OTUD6B-AS1 knockdown did not affect OTUD6B expression at the mRNA level and protein level. Our data suggest that OTUD6B-AS1 regulates proliferation and apoptosis via cyclin D1 expression in a sense gene independent manner. This is the first report investigating the function of OTUD6B-AS1. Our data shed light on a novel apoptosis resistance mechanism in Fb and vascular smooth muscle cells that might be relevant for pathogenesis of SSc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6533854PMC
September 2020

Mast cells in early rheumatoid arthritis associate with disease severity and support B cell autoantibody production.

Ann Rheum Dis 2018 12 20;77(12):1773-1781. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

Objectives: Mast cells (MCs) are involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, their contribution remains controversial. To establish their role in RA, we analysed their presence in the synovium of treatment-naïve patients with early RA and their association and functional relationship with histological features of synovitis.

Methods: Synovial tissue was obtained by ultrasound-guided biopsy from treatment-naïve patients with early RA (n=99). Immune cells (CD3/CD20/CD138/CD68) and their relationship with CD117MCs in synovial tissue were analysed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF). The functional involvement of MCs in ectopic lymphoid structures (ELS) was investigated , by coculturing MCs with naïve B cells and anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA)-producing B cell clones, and in interleukin-27 receptor alpha (IL27)-deficient and control mice during antigen-induced arthritis (AIA).

Results: High synovial MC counts are associated with local and systemic inflammation, autoantibody positivity and high disease activity. IHC/IF showed that MCs reside at the outer border of lymphoid aggregates. Furthermore, human MCs promote the activation and differentiation of naïve B cells and induce the production of ACPA, mainly via contact-dependent interactions. In AIA, synovial MC numbers increase in IL27 deficient mice, in association with ELS and worse disease activity.

Conclusions: Synovial MCs identify early RA patients with a severe clinical form of synovitis characterised by the presence of ELS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-213418DOI Listing
December 2018

Antisense Long Non-Coding RNAs Are Deregulated in Skin Tissue of Patients with Systemic Sclerosis.

J Invest Dermatol 2018 04 24;138(4):826-835. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune disease characterized by fibrosis of skin and multiple organs of which the pathogenesis is poorly understood. We studied differentially expressed coding and non-coding genes in relation to systemic sclerosis pathogenesis with a specific focus on antisense non-coding RNAs. Skin biopsy-derived RNAs from 14 early systemic sclerosis patients and six healthy individuals were sequenced with ion-torrent and analyzed using DEseq2. Overall, 4,901 genes with a fold change >1.5 and a false discovery rate <5% were detected in patients versus controls. Upregulated genes clustered in immunologic, cell adhesion, and keratin-related processes. Interestingly, 676 deregulated non-coding genes were detected, 257 of which were classified as antisense genes. Sense genes expressed opposite of these antisense genes were also deregulated in 42% of the observed sense-antisense gene pairs. The majority of the antisense genes had a similar effect sizes in an independent North American dataset with three genes (CTBP1-AS2, OTUD6B-AS1, and AGAP2-AS1) exceeding the study-wide Bonferroni-corrected P-value (P < 0.0023, P = 1.1 × 10, 1.4 × 10, 1.7 × 10, respectively). In this study, we highlight that together with coding genes, (antisense) long non-coding RNAs are deregulated in skin tissue of systemic sclerosis patients suggesting a novel class of genes involved in pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2017.09.053DOI Listing
April 2018

Genomic Influences on Susceptibility and Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am 2017 08;43(3):347-361

Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Genetics in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has moved from the finding of HLA-shared epitope decades ago toward the understanding of the role of HLA in RA and the findings of ∼100 additional genetic risk variants for disease susceptibility as well as several risk variants for severe disease. These findings increased our understanding of RA abnormality. Still, the mechanisms by which many of the variants exhibit their effect are not yet understood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rdc.2017.04.002DOI Listing
August 2017

Brief Report: The Role of Rare Protein-Coding Variants in Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor Treatment Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2017 04;69(4):735-741

Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Objective: In many rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, disease is controlled with anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) biologic therapies. However, in a significant number of patients, the disease fails to respond to anti-TNF therapy. We undertook the present study to examine the hypothesis that rare and low-frequency genetic variants might influence response to anti-TNF treatment.

Methods: We sequenced the coding region of 750 genes in 1,094 RA patients of European ancestry who were treated with anti-TNF. After quality control, 690 genes were included in the analysis. We applied single-variant association and gene-based association tests to identify variants associated with anti-TNF treatment response. In addition, given the key mechanistic role of TNF, we performed gene set analyses of 27 TNF pathway genes.

Results: We identified 14,420 functional variants, of which 6,934 were predicted as nonsynonymous 2,136 of which were further predicted to be "damaging." Despite the fact that the study was well powered, no single variant or gene showed study-wide significant association with change in the outcome measures disease activity or European League Against Rheumatism response. Intriguingly, we observed 3 genes, of 27 with nominal signals of association (P < 0.05), that were involved in the TNF signaling pathway. However, when we performed a rigorous gene set enrichment analysis based on association P value ranking, we observed no evidence of enrichment of association at genes involved in the TNF pathway (P  = 0.15, based on phenotype permutations).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that rare and low-frequency protein-coding variants in TNF signaling pathway genes or other genes do not contribute substantially to anti-TNF treatment response in patients with RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.39966DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6669377PMC
April 2017

The production and secretion of complement component C1q by human mast cells.

Mol Immunol 2016 10 17;78:164-170. Epub 2016 Sep 17.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

C1q is the initiation molecule of the classical pathway of the complement system and is produced by macrophages and immature dendritic cells. As mast cells share the same myeloid progenitor cells, we have studied whether also mast cells can produce and secrete C1q. Mast cells were generated in vitro from CD34+ progenitor cells from buffy coats or cord blood. Fully differentiated mast cells were shown by both RNA sequencing and qPCR to express C1QA, C1QB and C1QC. C1q produced by mast cells has a similar molecular make-up as serum C1q. Reconstituting C1q depleted serum with mast cell supernatant in haemolytic assays, indicated that C1q secreted by mast cells is functionally active. The level of C1q in supernatants produced under basal conditions was considerably enhanced upon stimulation with LPS, dexamethasone in combination with IFN- γ or via FcεRI triggering. Mast cells in human tissues stained positive for C1q in both healthy and in inflamed tissue. Moreover, mast cells in healthy and diseased skin appear to be the predominant C1q positive cells. Together, our data reveal that mast cells are able to produce and secrete functional active C1q and indicate mast cells as a local source of C1q in human tissue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2016.09.001DOI Listing
October 2016

Crowdsourced assessment of common genetic contribution to predicting anti-TNF treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis.

Nat Commun 2016 08 23;7:12460. Epub 2016 Aug 23.

MINES ParisTech, PSL-Research University, CBIO-Centre for Computational Biology, Fontainebleau 77300, France.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects millions world-wide. While anti-TNF treatment is widely used to reduce disease progression, treatment fails in ∼one-third of patients. No biomarker currently exists that identifies non-responders before treatment. A rigorous community-based assessment of the utility of SNP data for predicting anti-TNF treatment efficacy in RA patients was performed in the context of a DREAM Challenge (http://www.synapse.org/RA_Challenge). An open challenge framework enabled the comparative evaluation of predictions developed by 73 research groups using the most comprehensive available data and covering a wide range of state-of-the-art modelling methodologies. Despite a significant genetic heritability estimate of treatment non-response trait (h(2)=0.18, P value=0.02), no significant genetic contribution to prediction accuracy is observed. Results formally confirm the expectations of the rheumatology community that SNP information does not significantly improve predictive performance relative to standard clinical traits, thereby justifying a refocusing of future efforts on collection of other data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12460DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4996969PMC
August 2016

Repeated FcεRI triggering reveals modified mast cell function related to chronic allergic responses in tissue.

J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016 09 28;138(3):869-880. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Background: Activation of mast cells through FcεRI plays an important role in acute allergic reactions. However, little is known about the function of mast cells in patients with chronic allergic inflammation or the effect of repeated FcεRI triggering occurring in such responses.

Objective: We aimed to identify changes in mast cell function after repeated FcεRI triggering and to correlate these changes to chronic allergic responses in tissue.

Methods: Human cord blood-derived mast cells were treated for 2 weeks with anti-IgE. The function of naive or treated mast cells was analyzed by means of RNA sequencing, quantitative RT-PCR, flow cytometry, and functional assays. Protein secretion was measured with ELISAs and multiplex assays.

Results: We observed several changes in mast cell function after repeated anti-IgE triggering. Although the acute response was dampened, we identified 289 genes significantly upregulated after repeated anti-IgE. Most of these genes (84%) were not upregulated after a single anti-IgE stimulus, indicating a significantly different response mode characterized by increased antigen presentation, response to bacteria, and chemotaxis. Changes in mast cell function were related to changes in expression of the transcription factors RXRA and BATF and others. Importantly, we found a substantial overlap between genes upregulated after repeated anti-IgE triggering and genes upregulated in tissue from patients with chronic allergy, in particular those of patients with chronic rhinosinusitis.

Conclusion: Our study provides evidence for intrinsic modulation of mast cell function on repeated FcεRI-mediated activation. The overlap with gene expression in tissues is suggestive of a direct link between repeated IgE-mediated activation of mast cells and chronic allergy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2016.01.017DOI Listing
September 2016

Immunogenetics of rheumatoid arthritis: Understanding functional implications.

J Autoimmun 2015 Nov 26;64:74-81. Epub 2015 Jul 26.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands. Electronic address:

The last decade has seen a dramatic technological revolution. The characterisation of the majority of the common variations in our genetic code in 2003 precipitated the discovery of the genetic risk factors predisposing to Rheumatoid Arthritis development and progression. Prior to 2007, only a handful of genetic risk factors had been identified, HLA, PTPN22 and CTLA4. Since then, over 100 genetic risk loci have been described, with the prediction that an ever-increasing number of risk alleles with consistently decreasing effect sizes will be discovered in the years to come. Each risk locus harbours multiple candidate genes and the proof of causality of each of these candidates is as yet unknown. An enrichment of these RA-associated genes is found in three pathways: T-cell receptor signalling, JAK-STAT signalling and the NF-κB signalling cascade, and currently drugs targeting these pathways are available for the treatment of RA. However, the role that RA-associated genes have in these pathways and how they contribute to disease is not always clear. Major efforts in understanding the contribution of genetic risk factors are currently under way with studies querying the role of genetic variation in gene expression of coding and non-coding genes, epigenetic marks and other regulatory mechanisms yielding ever more valuable insights into mechanisms of disease. Recent work has suggested a possible enrichment of non-coding RNAs as well as super-enhancers in RA genetic loci indicating possible new insights into disease mechanism. This review brings together these emerging genetic data with an emphasis on the immunogenetic links these findings have provided and what we expect the future will bring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2015.07.007DOI Listing
November 2015

Comment on "Functional Analysis of a Complement Polymorphism (rs17611) Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis".

J Immunol 2015 Jul;195(1):3-4

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, 2300 RC Leiden, the Netherlands; Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, 2300 RC Leiden, the Netherlands.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1500822DOI Listing
July 2015

TYK2 protein-coding variants protect against rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity, with no evidence of major pleiotropic effects on non-autoimmune complex traits.

PLoS One 2015 7;10(4):e0122271. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

The Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.

Despite the success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in detecting a large number of loci for complex phenotypes such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility, the lack of information on the causal genes leaves important challenges to interpret GWAS results in the context of the disease biology. Here, we genetically fine-map the RA risk locus at 19p13 to define causal variants, and explore the pleiotropic effects of these same variants in other complex traits. First, we combined Immunochip dense genotyping (n = 23,092 case/control samples), Exomechip genotyping (n = 18,409 case/control samples) and targeted exon-sequencing (n = 2,236 case/controls samples) to demonstrate that three protein-coding variants in TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2) independently protect against RA: P1104A (rs34536443, OR = 0.66, P = 2.3 x 10(-21)), A928V (rs35018800, OR = 0.53, P = 1.2 x 10(-9)), and I684S (rs12720356, OR = 0.86, P = 4.6 x 10(-7)). Second, we show that the same three TYK2 variants protect against systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, Pomnibus = 6 x 10(-18)), and provide suggestive evidence that two of the TYK2 variants (P1104A and A928V) may also protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; P(omnibus) = 0.005). Finally, in a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) assessing >500 phenotypes using electronic medical records (EMR) in >29,000 subjects, we found no convincing evidence for association of P1104A and A928V with complex phenotypes other than autoimmune diseases such as RA, SLE and IBD. Together, our results demonstrate the role of TYK2 in the pathogenesis of RA, SLE and IBD, and provide supporting evidence for TYK2 as a promising drug target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122271PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388675PMC
March 2016

Identification of a novel non-coding mutation in C1qB in a Dutch child with C1q deficiency associated with recurrent infections.

Immunobiology 2015 Mar 18;220(3):422-7. Epub 2014 Oct 18.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Introduction: C1q deficiency is a rare genetic disorder that is strongly associated with development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Several mutations in the coding regions of the C1q genes have been described that result in stop-codons or other genetic abnormalities ultimately leading to C1q deficiency. Here we report on a Dutch boy suffering from recurrent infections with a complete C1q deficiency, without any SLE symptoms.

Methods: The presence of C1q in serum was assessed using ELISA and hemolytic assay. By western blot we examined the different C1q chains in cell lysates. We identified the mutation using deep-sequencing. By qPCR we studied the mRNA expression of C1qA, C1qB and C1qC in the PBMCs of the patient.

Results: Deep-sequencing revealed a homozygous mutation in the non-coding region of C1qB in the patient, whereas both parents were heterozygous. The mutation is located two nucleotides before the splice site of the second exon. In-silico analyses predict a complete abrogation of this natural splice site. Analyses of in vitro cultured cells from the patient revealed a lack of production of C1q and intracellular absence of C1qB in the presence of C1qA and C1qC peptides. Quantitative PCR analysis revealed total absence of C1qB mRNA, a reduced level of C1qA mRNA and normal levels of C1qC mRNA.

Conclusion: In this study we report a new mutation in the non-coding region of C1qB that is associated with C1q deficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.imbio.2014.10.005DOI Listing
March 2015

Genetic risk scores and number of autoantibodies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ann Rheum Dis 2015 Apr 13;74(4):762-8. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Department of Medical Genetics, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway.

Objective: Certain HLA-DRB1 alleles and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our objective was to examine the combined effect of these associated variants, calculated as a cumulative genetic risk score (GRS) on RA predisposition, as well as the number of autoantibodies (none, one or two present).

Method: We calculated four GRSs in 4956 patients and 4983 controls from four European countries. All four scores contained data on 22 non-HLA-risk SNPs, and three scores also contained HLA-DRB1 genotypes but had different HLA typing resolution. Most patients had data on both rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated proteins antibodies (ACPA). The GRSs were standardised (std.GRS) to account for population heterogeneity. Discrimination between patients and controls was examined by receiveroperating characteristics curves, and the four std.GRSs were compared across subgroups according to autoantibody status.

Results: The std.GRS improved its discriminatory ability between patients and controls when HLA-DRB1 data of higher resolution were added to the combined score. Patients had higher mean std.GRS than controls (p=7.9×10(-156)), and this score was significantly higher in patients with autoantibodies (shown for both RF and ACPA). Mean std.GRS was also higher in those with two versus one autoantibody (p=3.7×10(-23)) but was similar in patients without autoantibodies and controls (p=0.12).

Conclusions: The GRS was associated with the number of autoantibodies and to both RF and ACPA positivity. ACPA play a more important role than RF with regards to the genetic risk profile, but stratification of patients according to both RF and ACPA may optimise future genetic studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204173DOI Listing
April 2015

Identification of a genetic variant for joint damage progression in autoantibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis.

Ann Rheum Dis 2014 Nov 16;73(11):2038-46. Epub 2013 Aug 16.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Background: Joint destruction is a hallmark of autoantibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA), though the severity is highly variable between patients. The processes underlying these interindividual differences are incompletely understood.

Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study on the radiological progression rate in 384 autoantibody-positive patients with RA. In stage-II 1557 X-rays of 301 Dutch autoantibody-positive patients with RA were studied and in stage-III 861 X-rays of 742 North American autoantibody-positive patients with RA. Sperm-Associated Antigen 16 (SPAG16) expression in RA synovium and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) was examined using Real-Time Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) and immunohistochemistry. FLS secrete metalloproteinases that degrade cartilage and bone. SPAG16 genotypes were related to matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 and MMP-1 expression by FLS in vitro and MMP-3 production ex vivo.

Results: A cluster of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 2q34, located at SPAG16, associated with the radiological progression rate; rs7607479 reached genome-wide significance. A protective role of rs7607479 was replicated in European and North American patients with RA. Per minor allele, patients had a 0.78-fold (95% CI 0.67 to 0.91) progression rate over 7 years. mRNA and protein expression of SPAG16 in RA synovium and FLS was verified. FLS carrying the minor allele secreted less MMP-3 (p=1.60×10(-2)). Furthermore, patients with RA carrying the minor allele had lower serum levels of MMP-3 (p=4.28×10(-2)). In a multivariate analysis on rs7607479 and MMP-3, only MMP-3 associated with progression (p=2.77×10(-4)), suggesting that the association between SPAG16-rs7607479 and joint damage is mediated via an effect on MMP-3 secretion.

Conclusions: Genetic and functional analyses indicate that SPAG16 influences MMP-3 regulation and protects against joint destruction in autoantibody-positive RA. These findings could enhance risk stratification in autoantibody-positive RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204050DOI Listing
November 2014

Human genetics in rheumatoid arthritis guides a high-throughput drug screen of the CD40 signaling pathway.

PLoS Genet 2013 May 16;9(5):e1003487. Epub 2013 May 16.

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy and Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Although genetic and non-genetic studies in mouse and human implicate the CD40 pathway in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are no approved drugs that inhibit CD40 signaling for clinical care in RA or any other disease. Here, we sought to understand the biological consequences of a CD40 risk variant in RA discovered by a previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) and to perform a high-throughput drug screen for modulators of CD40 signaling based on human genetic findings. First, we fine-map the CD40 risk locus in 7,222 seropositive RA patients and 15,870 controls, together with deep sequencing of CD40 coding exons in 500 RA cases and 650 controls, to identify a single SNP that explains the entire signal of association (rs4810485, P = 1.4×10(-9)). Second, we demonstrate that subjects homozygous for the RA risk allele have ∼33% more CD40 on the surface of primary human CD19+ B lymphocytes than subjects homozygous for the non-risk allele (P = 10(-9)), a finding corroborated by expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 1,469 healthy control individuals. Third, we use retroviral shRNA infection to perturb the amount of CD40 on the surface of a human B lymphocyte cell line (BL2) and observe a direct correlation between amount of CD40 protein and phosphorylation of RelA (p65), a subunit of the NF-κB transcription factor. Finally, we develop a high-throughput NF-κB luciferase reporter assay in BL2 cells activated with trimerized CD40 ligand (tCD40L) and conduct an HTS of 1,982 chemical compounds and FDA-approved drugs. After a series of counter-screens and testing in primary human CD19+ B cells, we identify 2 novel chemical inhibitors not previously implicated in inflammation or CD40-mediated NF-κB signaling. Our study demonstrates proof-of-concept that human genetics can be used to guide the development of phenotype-based, high-throughput small-molecule screens to identify potential novel therapies in complex traits such as RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1003487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656093PMC
May 2013

Rare, low-frequency, and common variants in the protein-coding sequence of biological candidate genes from GWASs contribute to risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Am J Hum Genet 2013 Jan 20;92(1):15-27. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

The extent to which variants in the protein-coding sequence of genes contribute to risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown. In this study, we addressed this issue by deep exon sequencing and large-scale genotyping of 25 biological candidate genes located within RA risk loci discovered by genome-wide association studies (GWASs). First, we assessed the contribution of rare coding variants in the 25 genes to the risk of RA in a pooled sequencing study of 500 RA cases and 650 controls of European ancestry. We observed an accumulation of rare nonsynonymous variants exclusive to RA cases in IL2RA and IL2RB (burden test: p = 0.007 and p = 0.018, respectively). Next, we assessed the aggregate contribution of low-frequency and common coding variants to the risk of RA by dense genotyping of the 25 gene loci in 10,609 RA cases and 35,605 controls. We observed a strong enrichment of coding variants with a nominal signal of association with RA (p < 0.05) after adjusting for the best signal of association at the loci (p(enrichment) = 6.4 × 10(-4)). For one locus containing CD2, we found that a missense variant, rs699738 (c.798C>A [p.His266Gln]), and a noncoding variant, rs624988, reside on distinct haplotypes and independently contribute to the risk of RA (p = 4.6 × 10(-6)). Overall, our results indicate that variants (distributed across the allele-frequency spectrum) within the protein-coding portion of a subset of biological candidate genes identified by GWASs contribute to the risk of RA. Further, we have demonstrated that very large sample sizes will be required for comprehensively identifying the independent alleles contributing to the missing heritability of RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.11.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542467PMC
January 2013

Associations of autoantibodies, autoimmune risk alleles, and clinical diagnoses from the electronic medical records in rheumatoid arthritis cases and non-rheumatoid arthritis controls.

Arthritis Rheum 2013 Mar;65(3):571-81

Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, PBB-B3, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Objective: The significance of non-rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantibodies in patients with RA is unclear. The aim of this study was to assess associations of autoantibodies with autoimmune risk alleles and with clinical diagnoses from the electronic medical records (EMRs) among RA cases and non-RA controls.

Methods: Data on 1,290 RA cases and 1,236 non-RA controls of European genetic ancestry were obtained from the EMRs of 2 large academic centers. The levels of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs), antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (AGTAs), and anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies were measured. All subjects were genotyped for autoimmune risk alleles, and the association between number of autoimmune risk alleles present and number of types of autoantibodies present was studied. A phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) was conducted to study potential associations between autoantibodies and clinical diagnoses among RA cases and non-RA controls.

Results: The mean ages were 60.7 years in RA cases and 64.6 years in non-RA controls. The proportion of female subjects was 79% in each group. The prevalence of ACPAs and ANAs was higher in RA cases compared to controls (each P < 0.0001); there were no differences in the prevalence of anti-TPO antibodies and AGTAs. Carriage of higher numbers of autoimmune risk alleles was associated with increasing numbers of autoantibody types in RA cases (P = 2.1 × 10(-5)) and non-RA controls (P = 5.0 × 10(-3)). From the PheWAS, the presence of ANAs was significantly associated with a diagnosis of Sjögren's/sicca syndrome in RA cases.

Conclusion: The increased frequency of autoantibodies in RA cases and non-RA controls was associated with the number of autoimmune risk alleles carried by an individual. PheWAS of EMR data, with linkage to laboratory data obtained from blood samples, provide a novel method to test for the clinical significance of biomarkers in disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.37801DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582761PMC
March 2013

Meta-analysis identifies nine new loci associated with rheumatoid arthritis in the Japanese population.

Nat Genet 2012 Mar 25;44(5):511-6. Epub 2012 Mar 25.

Laboratory for Autoimmune Diseases, Center for Genomic Medicine, RIKEN, Yokohama, Japan.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation. We report a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in a Japanese population including 4,074 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (cases) and 16,891 controls, followed by a replication in 5,277 rheumatoid arthritis cases and 21,684 controls. Our study identified nine loci newly associated with rheumatoid arthritis at a threshold of P < 5.0 × 10(-8), including B3GNT2, ANXA3, CSF2, CD83, NFKBIE, ARID5B, PDE2A-ARAP1, PLD4 and PTPN2. ANXA3 was also associated with susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (P = 0.0040), and B3GNT2 and ARID5B were associated with Graves' disease (P = 3.5 × 10(-4) and 2.9 × 10(-4), respectively). We conducted a multi-ancestry comparative analysis with a previous meta-analysis in individuals of European descent (5,539 rheumatoid arthritis cases and 20,169 controls). This provided evidence of shared genetic risks of rheumatoid arthritis between the populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2231DOI Listing
March 2012

Bayesian inference analyses of the polygenic architecture of rheumatoid arthritis.

Nat Genet 2012 Mar 25;44(5):483-9. Epub 2012 Mar 25.

Division of Rheumatology Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The genetic architectures of common, complex diseases are largely uncharacterized. We modeled the genetic architecture underlying genome-wide association study (GWAS) data for rheumatoid arthritis and developed a new method using polygenic risk-score analyses to infer the total liability-scale variance explained by associated GWAS SNPs. Using this method, we estimated that, together, thousands of SNPs from rheumatoid arthritis GWAS explain an additional 20% of disease risk (excluding known associated loci). We further tested this method on datasets for three additional diseases and obtained comparable estimates for celiac disease (43% excluding the major histocompatibility complex), myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease (48%) and type 2 diabetes (49%). Our results are consistent with simulated genetic models in which hundreds of associated loci harbor common causal variants and a smaller number of loci harbor multiple rare causal variants. These analyses suggest that GWAS will continue to be highly productive for the discovery of additional susceptibility loci for common diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2232DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560362PMC
March 2012

Use of a multiethnic approach to identify rheumatoid- arthritis-susceptibility loci, 1p36 and 17q12.

Am J Hum Genet 2012 Mar 23;90(3):524-32. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.

We have previously shown that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk alleles overlap between different ethnic groups. Here, we utilize a multiethnic approach to show that we can effectively discover RA risk alleles. Thirteen putatively associated SNPs that had not yet exceeded genome-wide significance (p < 5 × 10(-8)) in our previous RA genome-wide association study (GWAS) were analyzed in independent sample sets consisting of 4,366 cases and 17,765 controls of European, African American, and East Asian ancestry. Additionally, we conducted an overall association test across all 65,833 samples (a GWAS meta-analysis plus the replication samples). Of the 13 SNPs investigated, four were significantly below the study-wide Bonferroni corrected p value threshold (p < 0.0038) in the replication samples. Two SNPs (rs3890745 at the 1p36 locus [p = 2.3 × 10(-12)] and rs2872507 at the 17q12 locus [p = 1.7 × 10(-9)]) surpassed genome-wide significance in all 16,659 RA cases and 49,174 controls combined. We used available GWAS data to fine map these two loci in Europeans and East Asians, and we found that the same allele conferred risk in both ethnic groups. A series of bioinformatic analyses identified TNFRSF14-MMEL1 at the 1p36 locus and IKZF3-ORMDL3-GSDMB at the 17q12 locus as the genes most likely associated with RA. These findings demonstrate empirically that a multiethnic approach is an effective strategy for discovering RA risk loci, and they suggest that combining GWASs across ethnic groups represents an efficient strategy for gaining statistical power.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.01.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309197PMC
March 2012

Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis identifies fourteen non-HLA shared loci.

PLoS Genet 2011 Feb 24;7(2):e1002004. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Epidemiology and candidate gene studies indicate a shared genetic basis for celiac disease (CD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the extent of this sharing has not been systematically explored. Previous studies demonstrate that 6 of the established non-HLA CD and RA risk loci (out of 26 loci for each disease) are shared between both diseases. We hypothesized that there are additional shared risk alleles and that combining genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from each disease would increase power to identify these shared risk alleles. We performed a meta-analysis of two published GWAS on CD (4,533 cases and 10,750 controls) and RA (5,539 cases and 17,231 controls). After genotyping the top associated SNPs in 2,169 CD cases and 2,255 controls, and 2,845 RA cases and 4,944 controls, 8 additional SNPs demonstrated P<5 × 10(-8) in a combined analysis of all 50,266 samples, including four SNPs that have not been previously confirmed in either disease: rs10892279 near the DDX6 gene (P(combined) =  1.2 × 10(-12)), rs864537 near CD247 (P(combined) =  2.2 × 10(-11)), rs2298428 near UBE2L3 (P(combined) =  2.5 × 10(-10)), and rs11203203 near UBASH3A (P(combined) =  1.1 × 10(-8)). We also confirmed that 4 gene loci previously established in either CD or RA are associated with the other autoimmune disease at combined P<5 × 10(-8) (SH2B3, 8q24, STAT4, and TRAF1-C5). From the 14 shared gene loci, 7 SNPs showed a genome-wide significant effect on expression of one or more transcripts in the linkage disequilibrium (LD) block around the SNP. These associations implicate antigen presentation and T-cell activation as a shared mechanism of disease pathogenesis and underscore the utility of cross-disease meta-analysis for identification of genetic risk factors with pleiotropic effects between two clinically distinct diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1002004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044685PMC
February 2011

Genetic basis of autoantibody positive and negative rheumatoid arthritis risk in a multi-ethnic cohort derived from electronic health records.

Am J Hum Genet 2011 Jan;88(1):57-69

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy and Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA; Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.

Discovering and following up on genetic associations with complex phenotypes require large patient cohorts. This is particularly true for patient cohorts of diverse ancestry and clinically relevant subsets of disease. The ability to mine the electronic health records (EHRs) of patients followed as part of routine clinical care provides a potential opportunity to efficiently identify affected cases and unaffected controls for appropriate-sized genetic studies. Here, we demonstrate proof-of-concept that it is possible to use EHR data linked with biospecimens to establish a multi-ethnic case-control cohort for genetic research of a complex disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In 1,515 EHR-derived RA cases and 1,480 controls matched for both genetic ancestry and disease-specific autoantibodies (anti-citrullinated protein antibodies [ACPA]), we demonstrate that the odds ratios and aggregate genetic risk score (GRS) of known RA risk alleles measured in individuals of European ancestry within our EHR cohort are nearly identical to those derived from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 5,539 autoantibody-positive RA cases and 20,169 controls. We extend this approach to other ethnic groups and identify a large overlap in the GRS among individuals of European, African, East Asian, and Hispanic ancestry. We also demonstrate that the distribution of a GRS based on 28 non-HLA risk alleles in ACPA+ cases partially overlaps with ACPA- subgroup of RA cases. Our study demonstrates that the genetic basis of rheumatoid arthritis risk is similar among cases of diverse ancestry divided into subsets based on ACPA status and emphasizes the utility of linking EHR clinical data with biospecimens for genetic studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.12.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3014362PMC
January 2011

Genome-wide association study meta-analysis identifies seven new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci.

Nat Genet 2010 Jun 9;42(6):508-14. Epub 2010 May 9.

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

To identify new genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis, we conducted a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of 5,539 autoantibody-positive individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (cases) and 20,169 controls of European descent, followed by replication in an independent set of 6,768 rheumatoid arthritis cases and 8,806 controls. Of 34 SNPs selected for replication, 7 new rheumatoid arthritis risk alleles were identified at genome-wide significance (P < 5 x 10(-8)) in an analysis of all 41,282 samples. The associated SNPs are near genes of known immune function, including IL6ST, SPRED2, RBPJ, CCR6, IRF5 and PXK. We also refined associations at two established rheumatoid arthritis risk loci (IL2RA and CCL21) and confirmed the association at AFF3. These new associations bring the total number of confirmed rheumatoid arthritis risk loci to 31 among individuals of European ancestry. An additional 11 SNPs replicated at P < 0.05, many of which are validated autoimmune risk alleles, suggesting that most represent genuine rheumatoid arthritis risk alleles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.582DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4243840PMC
June 2010

TRAF1/C5 polymorphism is not associated with increased mortality in rheumatoid arthritis: two large longitudinal studies.

Arthritis Res Ther 2010 5;12(2):R38. Epub 2010 Mar 5.

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands.

Introduction: Recently an association between a genetic variation in TRAF1/C5 and mortality from sepsis or cancer was found in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The most prevalent cause of death, cardiovascular disease, may have been missed in that study, since patients were enrolled at an advanced disease stage. Therefore, we used an inception cohort of RA patients to investigate the association between TRAF1/C5 and cardiovascular mortality, and replicate the findings on all-cause mortality. As TRAF1/C5 associated mortality may not be restricted to RA, we also studied a large cohort of non-RA patients.

Methods: 615 RA patients from the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic (EAC) (mean follow-up 7.6 years) were genotyped for rs10818488. In addition 5634 persons enrolled in the PROspective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (mean follow-up 3.2 years) were genotyped for rs2416808 (R(2) >0.99 with rs10818488). The life/death status was determined and for the deceased persons the cause of death was ascertained. Cox proportional hazards and regression models were used to assess hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Seventy-seven RA patients died. The main death causes in RA patients were cardiovascular diseases (37.7%), cancer (28.6%) and death due to infections (9.1%). No association was observed between the rs10818488 susceptible genotype AA and cardiovascular mortality (HR 1.08 95%CI 0.54 to 2.15) and all-cause mortality (HR 0.81 95%CI 0.27 to 2.43). Similar findings were observed for rs2416808 susceptible genotype GG in the non-RA cohort (HR 0.99; 95%CI 0.79 to 1.25 and HR 0.89; 95%CI 0.64 to 1.25, respectively).

Conclusions: The TRAF1/C5 region is not associated with an increased mortality risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/ar2947DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888185PMC
September 2010

Evidence for interaction between 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 2A and MHC type II molecules in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

Eur J Hum Genet 2010 Jul 24;18(7):821-6. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

It has repeatedly been suggested that the development of complex diseases can be elucidated by gene-gene interactions. Recently, we found that HTR2A, a member of the serotonin receptor family, is associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study was aimed to investigate the possibility of a gene-gene interaction between HTR2A and the major genetic risk factor for RA, HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles. We studied 4095 RA cases and 3223 controls from three different populations - from Sweden, the United States and the Netherlands - to test for interaction between the protective HTR2A haplotype and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles. Further, we analyzed mRNA and/or protein expression of HTR2A and HLA-DR in biopsy samples and in synovial fibroblasts from RA patients. The interaction was defined as departure from additivity of effects using attributable proportion due to interaction. First, we could demonstrate and further replicate an interaction between a protective haplotype in HTR2A and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles regarding risk of developing autoantibody-positive RA. Second, we could show that both genes are constitutively expressed in fibroblasts from synovial tissue of RA patients, and, by double immunofluorescence staining, we demonstrated that these two proteins are colocalized in these cells. In conclusion, our data demonstrate a statistical interaction between HTR2A and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles and colocalization of the product of these two genes in inflamed synovial tissue, which suggest a possible biological relationship between these two proteins. This finding may lead to the development of treatment based on enhancing the protective features of 5-HT2A in individuals with a certain HLA genotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2010.12DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2987366PMC
July 2010

Genetic variants at CD28, PRDM1 and CD2/CD58 are associated with rheumatoid arthritis risk.

Nat Genet 2009 Dec 8;41(12):1313-8. Epub 2009 Nov 8.

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

To discover new rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk loci, we systematically examined 370 SNPs from 179 independent loci with P < 0.001 in a published meta-analysis of RA genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of 3,393 cases and 12,462 controls. We used Gene Relationships Across Implicated Loci (GRAIL), a computational method that applies statistical text mining to PubMed abstracts, to score these 179 loci for functional relationships to genes in 16 established RA disease loci. We identified 22 loci with a significant degree of functional connectivity. We genotyped 22 representative SNPs in an independent set of 7,957 cases and 11,958 matched controls. Three were convincingly validated: CD2-CD58 (rs11586238, P = 1 x 10(-6) replication, P = 1 x 10(-9) overall), CD28 (rs1980422, P = 5 x 10(-6) replication, P = 1 x 10(-9) overall) and PRDM1 (rs548234, P = 1 x 10(-5) replication, P = 2 x 10(-8) overall). An additional four were replicated (P < 0.0023): TAGAP (rs394581, P = 0.0002 replication, P = 4 x 10(-7) overall), PTPRC (rs10919563, P = 0.0003 replication, P = 7 x 10(-7) overall), TRAF6-RAG1 (rs540386, P = 0.0008 replication, P = 4 x 10(-6) overall) and FCGR2A (rs12746613, P = 0.0022 replication, P = 2 x 10(-5) overall). Many of these loci are also associated to other immunologic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.479DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142887PMC
December 2009

Association of a single-nucleotide polymorphism in CD40 with the rate of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis Rheum 2009 Aug;60(8):2242-7

Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Objective: The severity of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is highly variable from patient to patient and is influenced by genetic factors. Genome-wide association studies have enormously boosted the field of the genetics of RA susceptibility, but risk loci for RA severity remain poorly defined. A recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identified 6 genetic regions for susceptibility to autoantibody-positive RA: CD40, KIF5A/PIP4K2C, CDK6, CCL21, PRKCQ, and MMEL1/TNFRSF14. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether these newly described genetic regions are associated with the rate of joint destruction.

Methods: RA patients enrolled in the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic were studied (n=563). Yearly radiographs were scored using the Sharp/van der Heijde method (median followup 5 years; maximum followup 9 years). The rate of joint destruction between genotype groups was compared using a linear mixed model, correcting for age, sex, and treatment strategies. A total of 393 anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)-positive RA patients from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC) who had radiographic data available were used for the replication study.

Results: The TT and CC/CG genotypes of 2 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, rs4810485 (CD40) and rs42041 (CDK6), respectively, were associated with a higher rate of joint destruction in ACPA-positive RA patients (P=0.003 and P=0.012, respectively), with rs4810485 being significant after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. The association of the CD40 minor allele with the rate of radiographic progression was replicated in the NARAC cohort (P=0.021).

Conclusion: A polymorphism in the CD40 locus is associated with the rate of joint destruction in patients with ACPA-positive RA. Our findings provide one of the first non-HLA-related genetic severity factors that has been replicated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.24721DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3121053PMC
August 2009