Individuals with a particular combination of genetic variants near the gene TNFSF4 are at higher risk of developing lupus, according to a study to be published online in Nature Genetics. Lupus is a complex autoimmune disorder, more common in women than men, that causes inflammation and damage to a wide range of tissues.
It had previously been shown that a region on chromosome 1 was likely to harbour variants that affect the risk of developing lupus. Timothy Vyse and colleagues focused on TNFSF4 as a candidate gene in this region because its product is known to affect cells of the immune system that distinguish the body's own tissues from foreign pathogens.
In a collection of affected families from the UK, and one from Minnesota, the authors found a series of variants flanking TNFSF4 to be associated with the disease when inherited in combination. These risk variants seem to promote elevated expression of TNFSF4 in blood lymphocytes isolated from individuals with lupus.
Timothy Vyse (Imperial College, London, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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