Meta-analysis of two Chinese populations identifies an autoimmune disease risk allele in 22q11.21 as associated with systemic lupus erythematosus

Yan Zhang, Yong Fei Wang, Jing Yang, Jing Zhang, Liangdan Sun, Nattiya Hirankarn, Hai Feng Pan, Chak Sing Lau, Tak Mao Chan, Tsz Leung Lee, Alexander Moon Ho Leung, Chi Chiu Mok, Lu Zhang, Jiangshan Jane Shen, Sik Nin Wong, Ka Wing Lee, Marco Hok Kung Ho, Pamela Pui Wah Lee, Brian Hon Yin Chung, Chun Yin ChongRaymond Woon Sing Wong, Mo Yin Mok, Wilfred Hing Sang Wong, Kwok Lung Tong, Niko Kei Chiu Tse, Xiang Pei Li, Yingyos Avihingsanon, Pornpimol Rianthavorn, Thavatchai Deekajorndej, Kanya Suphapeetiporn, Vorasuk Shotelersuk, Shirley King Yee Ying, Samuel Ka Shun Fung, Wai Ming Lai, Chun Ming Wong, Irene Oi Lin Ng, Maria Merce Garcia-Barcelo, Stacey S. Cherny, Paul Kwong Hang Tam, Pak Chung Sham, Sen Yang, Dong Qing Ye, Yong Cui, Xue Jun Zhang, Wanling Yang, Yu Lung Lau

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Introduction: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous disease with a diverse spectrum of clinical symptoms, ranging from skin rash to end-organ damage. 22q11.21 has been identified as a susceptibility region for several autoimmune diseases, including SLE. However, detailed information for SLE association and the underlying functional mechanism(s) is still lacking. Methods: Through meta-analysis of two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on Han Chinese populations, comprising a total of 1,659 cases and 3,398 controls matched geographically, we closely examined the 22q11.21 region, especially on the reported single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with different autoimmune diseases and their relationships. We further replicated the most significant associations of SNPs with SLE using 2,612 cases and 2,323 controls of Asian ancestry. Results: All reported SNPs in the 22q11.21 region with different autoimmune diseases were examined using the two GWAS data and meta-analysis results, and supportive evidence of association with SLE was found (meta-analysis: P_meta ≤ 7.27E-05), which might require further investigation. SNP rs2298428 was identified as the most significant SNP associated with SLE in this region (P_meta =2.70E-09). It showed independent effects through both stepwise and conditional logistic regression, and there is no evidence of other independent association signals for SLE in this region. The association of rs2298428 was further replicated in three cohorts from Hong Kong, Anhui and Thailand comprising a total of 2,612 cases and 2,323 controls (joint analysis of GWAS and replication result: P_all =1.31E-11, odds ratio =1.23). SNP rs2298428 was shown to be an expression quantitative locus for UBE2L3 gene in different cell types, with the risk allele (T) being correlated with higher expression of UBE2L3. This is consistent with earlier reports on higher expression of UBE2L3 in patients with SLE. Conclusions: Association with distinct autoimmune diseases highlights the significance of this region in autoreactive responses and potentially shared functional mechanisms in these diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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