Genes in rheumatoid arthritis

September 17, 2007

A paper published this week in the open access journal PLoS Medicine provides strong evidence that one specific part of the genome is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Rene Toes and colleagues from Leiden University Medical Center, the Karolinska Institute, and Celera studied four groups of patients and matched controls. They found a consistent association with one specific region of the genome -- a region on chromosome 9 that includes the two genes, complement component 5 (C5) of the complement system (a primitive system within the body that is involved in the defense against foreign molecules) and a gene involved in the inflammatory response, TNF receptor-associated factor 1(TRAF1) .

Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common chronic illness that affects around 1% of people in developed countries. It is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to various tissues within the body. As well as affecting joints and causing an inflammatory arthritis, it can also affect many other organs of the body. An association has been shown previously in humans with the part of the genome that contains the human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which are involved in the immune response. In addition, previous work in mice that have a disease similar to human rheumatoid arthritis has identified a number of possible candidate genes including C5.

The researchers took 40 genetic markers, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), from across the region that included the C5 and TRAF1 genes. They compared which of the alternate forms of the SNPs were present in 290 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 254 unaffected participants of Dutch origin. They then repeated the study in three other groups of patients and controls of Dutch, Swedish, and US origin. They found a consistent association with rheumatoid arthritis of one region of 65 kilobases that included one end of the C5 gene as well as the TRAF1 gene and then refined the area of interest to a piece marked by one particular SNP that lay between the genes. They went on to show that the genetic region in which these genes are located may be involved in the binding of a protein that modifies the transcription of genes. Furthermore, they showed that one of the alternate versions of the marker in this region was associated with more aggressive disease.

This study adds to accumulating evidence that this region of the genome is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The next steps will be to identify the precise genetic change involved.
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Everything published by PLoS Medicine is Open Access: freely available for anyone to read, download, redistribute and otherwise use, as long as the authorship is properly attributed. In this week's press release: Strong evidence that region on chromosome 9 is associated with rheumatoid arthritis

Please mention PLoS Medicine in your report and use the links below to take your readers straight to the online articles

Citation: Kurreeman FAS, Padyukov L, Marques RB, Schrodi SJ, Seddighzadeh M, et al. (2007) A candidate gene approach identifies the TRAF1/C5 region as a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis. PLoS Med 4(9): e278. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278

IN YOUR ARTICLE, PLEASE LINK TO THIS URL, WHICH WILL PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE PUBLISHED PAPER: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE:

http://www.plos.org/press/plme-04-09-Toes.pdf

CONTACT:
Dr. Rene Toes
Leiden University Medical Center
Dept of Rheumatology
Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Netherlands
e-mail: r.e.m.toes@lumc.nl
Tel: +31-71-5263598

About PLoS Medicine


PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit http://www.plosmedicine.org

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org

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