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  • The genetic association of RUNX3 with ankylosing spondylitis can be explained by allele-specific effects on IRF4 recruitment that alter gene expression.

    3 July 2018

    OBJECTIVES: To identify the functional basis for the genetic association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), upstream of the RUNX3 promoter, with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). METHODS: We performed conditional analysis of genetic association data and used ENCODE data on chromatin remodelling and transcription factor (TF) binding sites to identify the primary AS-associated regulatory SNP in the RUNX3 region. The functional effects of this SNP were tested in luciferase reporter assays. Its effects on TF binding were investigated by electrophoretic mobility gel shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation. RUNX3 mRNA levels were compared in primary CD8+ T cells of AS risk and protective genotypes by real-time PCR. RESULTS: The association of the RUNX3 SNP rs4648889 with AS (p<7.6×10(-14)) was robust to conditioning on all other SNPs in this region. We identified a 2 kb putative regulatory element, upstream of RUNX3, containing rs4648889. In reporter gene constructs, the protective rs4648889 'G' allele increased luciferase activity ninefold but significantly less activity (4.3-fold) was seen with the AS risk 'A' allele (p≤0.01). The binding of Jurkat or CD8+ T-cell nuclear extracts to the risk allele was decreased and IRF4 recruitment was reduced. The AS-risk allele also affected H3K4Me1 histone methylation and associated with an allele-specific reduction in RUNX3 mRNA (p<0.05). CONCLUSION: We identified a regulatory region upstream of RUNX3 that is modulated by rs4648889. The risk allele decreases TF binding (including IRF4) and reduces reporter activity and RUNX3 expression. These findings may have important implications for understanding the role of T cells and other immune cells in AS.

  • Association study of genes related to bone formation and resorption and the extent of radiographic change in ankylosing spondylitis.

    3 July 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To identify genetic associations with severity of radiographic damage in ankylosing spondylitis (AS). METHOD: We studied 1537 AS cases of European descent; all fulfilled the modified New York Criteria. Radiographic severity was assessed from digitised lateral radiographs of the cervical and lumbar spine using the modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis Spinal Score (mSASSS). A two-phase genotyping design was used. In phase 1, 498 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 688 cases; these were selected to capture >90% of the common haplotypic variation in the exons, exon-intron boundaries, and 5 kb flanking DNA in the 5' and 3' UTR of 74 genes involved in anabolic or catabolic bone pathways. In phase 2, 15 SNPs exhibiting p<0.05 were genotyped in a further cohort of 830 AS cases; results were analysed both separately and in combination with the discovery phase data. Association was tested by contingency tables after separating the samples into 'mild' and 'severe' groups, defined as the bottom and top 40% by mSASSS, adjusted for gender and disease duration. RESULTS: Experiment-wise association was observed with the SNP rs8092336 (combined OR 0.32, p=1.2×10(-5)), which lies within RANK (receptor activator of NFκB), a gene involved in osteoclastogenesis, and in the interaction between T cells and dendritic cells. Association was also found with the SNP rs1236913 in PTGS1 (prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 1, cyclooxygenase 1), giving an OR of 0.53 (p=2.6×10(-3)). There was no observed association between radiographic severity and HLA-B*27. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support roles for bone resorption and prostaglandins pathways in the osteoproliferative changes in AS.

  • Identification of multiple risk variants for ankylosing spondylitis through high-density genotyping of immune-related loci.

    3 July 2018

    Ankylosing spondylitis is a common, highly heritable inflammatory arthritis affecting primarily the spine and pelvis. In addition to HLA-B*27 alleles, 12 loci have previously been identified that are associated with ankylosing spondylitis in populations of European ancestry, and 2 associated loci have been identified in Asians. In this study, we used the Illumina Immunochip microarray to perform a case-control association study involving 10,619 individuals with ankylosing spondylitis (cases) and 15,145 controls. We identified 13 new risk loci and 12 additional ankylosing spondylitis-associated haplotypes at 11 loci. Two ankylosing spondylitis-associated regions have now been identified encoding four aminopeptidases that are involved in peptide processing before major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I presentation. Protective variants at two of these loci are associated both with reduced aminopeptidase function and with MHC class I cell surface expression.

  • Analysis of five chronic inflammatory diseases identifies 27 new associations and highlights disease-specific patterns at shared loci.

    3 July 2018

    We simultaneously investigated the genetic landscape of ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and ulcerative colitis to investigate pleiotropy and the relationship between these clinically related diseases. Using high-density genotype data from more than 86,000 individuals of European ancestry, we identified 244 independent multidisease signals, including 27 new genome-wide significant susceptibility loci and 3 unreported shared risk loci. Complex pleiotropy was supported when contrasting multidisease signals with expression data sets from human, rat and mouse together with epigenetic and expressed enhancer profiles. The comorbidities among the five immune diseases were best explained by biological pleiotropy rather than heterogeneity (a subgroup of cases genetically identical to those with another disease, possibly owing to diagnostic misclassification, molecular subtypes or excessive comorbidity). In particular, the strong comorbidity between primary sclerosing cholangitis and inflammatory bowel disease is likely the result of a unique disease, which is genetically distinct from classical inflammatory bowel disease phenotypes.

  • Genetic dissection of acute anterior uveitis reveals similarities and differences in associations observed with ankylosing spondylitis.

    3 July 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To use high-density genotyping to investigate the genetic associations of acute anterior uveitis (AAU) in patients with and those without ankylosing spondylitis (AS). METHODS: We genotyped samples from 1,711 patients with AAU (either primary or combined with AS), 2,339 AS patients without AAU, and 10,000 control subjects on an Illumina Immunochip Infinium microarray. We also used data for AS patients from previous genome-wide association studies to investigate the AS risk locus ANTXR2 for its putative effect in AAU. ANTXR2 expression in mouse eyes was investigated by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: A comparison between all patients with AAU and healthy control subjects showed strong association over HLA-B, corresponding to the HLA-B27 tag single-nucleotide polymorphism rs116488202. The association of 3 non-major histocompatibility complex loci, IL23R, the intergenic region 2p15, and ERAP1, reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10(-8)). Five loci harboring the immune-related genes IL10-IL19, IL18R1-IL1R1, IL6R, the chromosome 1q32 locus harboring KIF21B, as well as the eye-related gene EYS, were also associated, reaching a suggestive level of significance (P < 5 × 10(-6)). Several previously confirmed AS associations demonstrated significant differences in effect size between AS patients with AAU and AS patients without AAU. ANTXR2 expression varied across eye compartments. CONCLUSION: These findings of both novel AAU-specific associations and associations shared with AS demonstrate overlapping but also distinct genetic susceptibility loci for AAU and AS. The associations in IL10 and IL18R1 are shared with inflammatory bowel disease, suggesting common etiologic pathways.

  • Major histocompatibility complex associations of ankylosing spondylitis are complex and involve further epistasis with ERAP1.

    3 July 2018

    Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common, highly heritable, inflammatory arthritis for which HLA-B*27 is the major genetic risk factor, although its role in the aetiology of AS remains elusive. To better understand the genetic basis of the MHC susceptibility loci, we genotyped 7,264 MHC SNPs in 22,647 AS cases and controls of European descent. We impute SNPs, classical HLA alleles and amino-acid residues within HLA proteins, and tested these for association to AS status. Here we show that in addition to effects due to HLA-B*27 alleles, several other HLA-B alleles also affect susceptibility. After controlling for the associated haplotypes in HLA-B, we observe independent associations with variants in the HLA-A, HLA-DPB1 and HLA-DRB1 loci. We also demonstrate that the ERAP1 SNP rs30187 association is not restricted only to carriers of HLA-B*27 but also found in HLA-B*40:01 carriers independently of HLA-B*27 genotype.

  • ERAP1 association with ankylosing spondylitis is attributable to common genotypes rather than rare haplotype combinations.

    3 July 2018

    We investigated the proposal that ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is associated with unusual ERAP1 genotypes. ERAP1 haplotypes were constructed for 213 AS cases and 46 rheumatoid arthritis controls using family data. Haplotypes were generated from five common ERAP1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)-rs2287987 (M349V), rs30187 (K528R), rs10050860 (D575N), rs17482078 (R725Q), and rs27044 (Q730E). Haplotype frequencies were compared using Fisher's exact test. ERAP1 haplotypes imputed from the International Genetics of AS Consortium (IGAS) Immunochip study were also studied. In the family study, we identified only four common ERAP1 haplotypes ("VRNQE," "MKDRQ," "MRDRE," and "MKDRE") in both AS cases and controls apart from two rare (<0.5%) previously unreported haplotypes. There were no examples of the unusual ERAP1 haplotype combination ("*001/*005") previously reported by others in 53% of AS cases. As expected, K528-bearing haplotypes were increased in the AS family study (AS 43% vs. control 35%), due particularly to an increase in the MKDRQ haplotype (AS 35% vs. control 25%, P = 0.01). This trend was replicated in the imputed Immunochip data for the two K528-bearing haplotypes MKDRQ (AS 33% vs. controls 27%, P = 1.2 × 10-24) and MKDRE (AS 8% vs. controls 7%, P = 0.004). The ERAP1 association with AS is therefore predominantly attributable to common ERAP1 haplotypes and haplotype combinations.