, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 391-398

Current advances in the human lupus genetics

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Abstract

Genetic predisposition has been firmly established as a key element in susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). During the past three decades, association studies have assessed many genes for potential roles in predisposing to SLE. These studies have identified a few risk factors including hereditary deficiency of complement components, major histocompatibility complex class II alleles, and allelic variants for the Fc portion of IgG (FCGR) genes. In recent years, a few groups have completed linkage analyses in data sets from families containing multiple members affected with SLE. Results from these initial genome scans are encouraging; approximately eight chromosomal regions have been identified exhibiting evidence for significant linkage to SLE and have been confirmed using independent cohorts (1q23, 1q25-31, 1q41-42, 2q35-37, 4p16-15.2, 6p11-21, 12q24, and 16q12), suggesting the high likelihood of the presence of one or multiple SLE susceptibility genes at each locus. Another approach of linkage analyses conditioned on pedigrees where one affected member manifesting a particular clinical condition has also identified many chromosomal regions linked to SLE. Within several established susceptibility loci, evidence for association of positional candidate genes is emerging. Within 2q35-37, an intronic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the positional candidate gene program cell death 1 gene has been associated with SLE susceptibility. The SLE-associated SNP affects a transcription factor, RUNX1, binding site. Recently, SNPs of novel positional candidate genes that influence RUNX1 binding motifs have also been associated with other autoimmune diseases, suggesting the possibility of a common theme shared among susceptibility genes for autoimmune diseases. In the coming years, susceptibility genes responsible for the observed linkage will be identified, and will lead to further delineating genetic pathways involved in susceptibility to SLE.