Two studies in the May issue of Nature Genetics describe the identification of genes associated with susceptibility to Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Katherine Siminovitch and colleagues report variants in two neighboring genes on chromosome 5 associated with susceptibility to Crohn disease. These two genes encode related proteins whose function is to transport small molecules across cell membranes. The genes are expressed in the cells lining the intestine, the principal tissue affected in individuals with Crohn disease. The variant in one of the genes results in a protein with altered transport properties. The other variant alters a binding site for a factor that controls expression levels of the second gene.
Stefan Schreiber and colleagues describe a different gene on chromosome 10 associated with susceptibility to both ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease. This gene encodes a protein involved in maintaining the integrity of cellular sheets like the one that forms the lining of the intestine.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a spectrum of chronic relapsing inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract affecting as many as 1 million individuals in the United States.
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Also available online Study 1, Study 2.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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