DNA Sequence Variants in Human Autoimmune Diseases
Sammanfattning: Human autoimmune diseases are hallmarked by inappropriate loss-of-tolerance and self-attacking response of the immune system. Studies included in this thesis are focusing on the implication and functional impact of genetic factors in three autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).Using genetic association studies, we found in study I and II that sequence variants of the interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene were associated with RA and asthma, and the associations were more pronounced in certain disease subtypes. Distinct association patterns or risk alleles of the IRF5 gene variants were revealed in different diseases, indicating that IRF5 contributes to disease manifestations in a dose-dependent manner. In study III, we found that seven out of eight genetic risk loci for SLE, which were originally identified in East Asian populations, also conferred disease risk with the same risk alleles and comparable magnitudes of effect sizes in Caucasians. Remarkable differences in risk allele frequencies were observed for all associated loci across ethnicities, which seems to be the major source of genetic heterogeneity for SLE. In study IV we explored an exhaustive spectrum of sequence variants in the genes inhibitor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells kinase epsilon (IKBKE) and interferon induced with helicase C domain 1 (IFIH1) by gene resequencing, and identified nine variants in IKBKE and three variants in IFIH1 as genetic risk factors for SLE. One of the associated variants may influence splicing of IKBKE mRNA. In study V we provided genome-wide transcriptional regulatory profiles for IRF5 and signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) using chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq). The target genes of IRF5 and STAT4 were found to play active roles in pathways related with inflammatory response, and their expression patterns were characteristic for SLE patients. We also identified potential cooperative transcription factors for IRF5 and STAT4, and disease-associated sequence variants which may affect the regulatory function of IRF5 and STAT4.In conclusion, this thesis illuminates the contribution of several genetic risk factors to susceptibility of human autoimmune diseases, which facilitates our understanding of the genetic basis of their pathogenesis.
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