Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc) share some pathophysiologic bases as evidenced by individual and familial polyautoimmunity and common susceptibility genetic factors. With regard to the latter, there has been a recent shift from the "common variant" to the "rare variant" paradigm, since rare variants of TNFAIP3 and TREX1 with large effect sizes have recently been discovered in SLE. The present study was undertaken to investigate whether rare variants of TNFAIP3 and TREX1 are also associated with SSc. METHODS: TREX1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs3135946, rs7626978, rs3135943, and rs11797 and TNFAIP3 SNPs rs9494883, rs72063345, rs5029939, rs2230926, rs117480515, and rs7749323 were genotyped in a discovery set (985 SSc patients and 1,011 controls), and replication analysis of the most relevant results was performed in a second set (622 SSc patients and 493 controls). RESULTS: No association between TREX1 variants and SSc was observed. For TNFAIP3, we first demonstrated that a low-frequency variant, rs117480515, tagged the recently identified TT>A SLE dinucleotide. In the discovery sample, we observed that all tested TNFAIP3 variants were in linkage disequilibrium and were associated with SSc and various SSc subsets, including the polyautoimmune phenotype. We subsequently genotyped rs117480515 in the replication sample and found it to be associated solely with the SSc polyautoimmune subset (odds ratio 3.51 [95% confidence interval 2.28-5.41], P = 8.58 × 10(-9) ) in the combined populations. Genotype-messenger RNA (mRNA) expression correlation analysis revealed that the TNFAIP3 rs117480515 risk allele was associated with decreased mRNA expression. CONCLUSION: The present findings establish the TNFAIP3 locus as a susceptibility factor for the subset of SSc with a polyautoimmune phenotype. Our results support the implication of rare/low-frequency functional variants and the critical role of A20 in autoimmunity.
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