A gene associated with susceptibility to a group of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease and lupus, is identified in the May issue of Nature Genetics. This discovery is the latest in a series of findings identifying common genetic variants as risk factors for more than one disorder in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues.
Ryo Yamada and colleagues found that a particular variant of the gene FCRL3, encoding a receptor that may be involved in regulating the immune system, is significantly more common in Japanese individuals with one of these autoimmunities. The variant affects the binding of a factor, NF-kB, that promotes FCRL3 expression, resulting in greater production of both FCRL3 and certain autoantibodies.
These autoantibodies are well known markers for rheumatoid arthritis in particular. The findings were replicated in an independent Japanese group, lending confidence to the results, although it remains to be seen whether the association will also be observed in other ethnic groups.
Ryo Yamada (SNP Research Center, RIKEN, Yokohama, Japan)
Also available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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