[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Both sequence variation and copy-number variation (CNV) of the genes encoding receptors for immunoglobulin G (Fcγ receptors) have been genetically and functionally associated with a number of autoimmune diseases. However, the molecular nature and evolutionary context of this variation is unknown. Here, we describe the structure of the CNV, estimate its mutation rate and diversity, and place it in the context of the known functional alloantigen variation of these genes. Deletion of Fcγ receptor IIIB, associated with systemic lupus erythematosus, is a result of independent nonallelic homologous recombination events with a frequency of approximately 0.1%. We also show that pathogen diversity, in particular helminth diversity, has played a critical role in shaping the functional variation at these genes both between mammalian species and between human populations. Positively selected amino acids are involved in the interaction with IgG and include some amino acids that are known polymorphic alloantigens in humans. This supports a genetic contribution to the hygiene hypothesis, which states that past evolution in the context of helminth diversity has left humans with an array of susceptibility alleles for autoimmune disease in the context of a helminth-free environment. This approach shows the link between pathogens and autoimmune disease at the genetic level and provides a strategy for interrogating the genetic variation underlying autoimmune-disease risk and infectious-disease susceptibility.
Full-text Article · May 2012 · The American Journal of Human Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Molecules involved in leukocyte trafficking have a central role in the development of inflammatory and immune responses. We performed F(ST) analysis of the selectin cluster, as well as of SELPLG, ICAM1 and VCAM1. Peaks of significantly high population genetic differentiation were restricted to two regions in SELP and one in SELPLG. Resequencing data indicated that the region covering SELP exons 11-13 displays high nucleotide diversity in Africans and Europeans (CEU), and a high level of within-species diversity compared with inter-specific divergence. Analysis of inferred haplotypes revealed a complex phylogeny with two deeply separated clades that coalesce at ~3.5 million years (MY) plus a minor clade with a TMRCA (time to the most recent common ancestor) of ~2.2 MY. A splicing assay indicated no haplotype-specific effect on SELP exon 14 inclusion. These data are consistent with a model of multiallelic balancing selection; single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis indicated that the Val640Leu variant represents a likely selection target. In populations of Asian ancestry a distinct haplotype, possibly carrying regulatory variants, has been driven to high frequency by positive selection. No deviation from neutrality was observed for the SELPLG region. Resequencing of SELP in chimpanzees revealed a haplotype phylogeny with extremely deep basal branches, suggesting either long-standing balancing selection or ancestral population structure. Thus, SELP has experienced a complex selective history, possibly as a result of local adaptation. Variants in the gene have been associated with autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Association studies would benefit from both taking the complex SELP haplotype structure into account and from analysis of possible regulatory variants in the gene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Three prime repair exonuclease 1 (TREX1) degrades excess HIV-1 DNA, thereby preventing recognition by innate immunity receptors and type I interferon responses. Analyses performed in two HIV-exposed seronegative (HESN) cohorts did not show any differences in TREX1 sequence, single nucleotide polymorphisms frequency, or expression in HESN compared to controls, suggesting that, despite its central role in the HIV-1 infection process, genetic diversity at TREX1 is not a major determinant of susceptibility to infection in humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The human ZC3HAV1 gene encodes an antiviral protein. The longest splicing isoform of ZC3HAV1 contains a C-terminal PARP-like domain, which has evolved under positive selection in primates. We analyzed the evolutionary history of this same domain in humans and in Pan troglodytes. We identified two variants that segregate in both humans and chimpanzees; one of them (rs3735007) does not occur at a hypermutable site and accounts for a nonsynonymous substitution (Thr851Ile). The probability that the two trans-specific polymorphisms have occurred independently in the two lineages was estimated to be low (P = 0.0054), suggesting that at least one of them has arisen before speciation and has been maintained by selection. Population genetic analyses in humans indicated that the region surrounding the shared variants displays strong evidences of long-standing balancing selection. Selection signatures were also observed in a chimpanzee population sample. Inspection of 1000 Genomes data confirmed these findings but indicated that search for selection signatures using low-coverage whole-genome data may need masking of repetitive sequences. A case-control study of more than 1,000 individuals from mainland Italy indicated that the Thr851Ile SNP is significantly associated with susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS) (odds ratio [OR] = 1.47, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.08-1.99, P = 0.011). This finding was confirmed in a larger sample of 4,416 Sardinians cases/controls (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.037-1.344, P = 0.011), but not in a population from Belgium. We provide one of the first instances of human/chimpanzee trans-specific coding variant located outside the major histocompatibility complex region. The selective pressure is likely to be virus driven; in modern populations, this variant associates with susceptibility to MS, possibly via the interaction with environmental factors.
Full-text Article · Mar 2012 · Molecular Biology and Evolution
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The ERAP1 gene encodes an aminopeptidase involved in antigen processing. A functional polymorphism in the gene (rs30187, Arg528Lys) associates with susceptibility to ankylosying spondylitis (AS), whereas a SNP in the interacting ERAP2 gene increases susceptibility to another inflammatory autoimmune disorder, Crohn's disease (CD). We analysed rs30187 in 572 Italian patients with CD and in 517 subjects suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS); for each cohort, an independent sex- and age-matched control group was genotyped. The frequency of the 528Arg allele was significantly higher in both disease cohorts compared to the respective control population (for CD, OR = 1.20 95%CI: 1.01-1.43, p = 0.036; for RRMS, OR = 1.26; 95%CI: 1.04-1.51, p = 0.01). Meta-analysis with the Wellcome Trust Cases Control Consortium GWAS data confirmed the association with MS (p(meta) = 0.005), but not with CD. In AS, the rs30187 variant has a predisposing effect only in an HLA-B27 allelic background. It remains to be evaluated whether interaction between ERAP1 and distinct HLA class I alleles also affects the predisposition to MS, and explains the failure to provide definitive evidence for a role of rs30187 in CD. Results herein support the emerging concept that a subset of master-regulatory genes underlay the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Descriptions of genes that are adaptively evolving in humans and that carry polymorphisms with an effect on cognitive performances have been virtually absent. SNAP25 encodes a presynaptic protein with a role in regulation of neurotransmitter release. We analysed the intra-specific diversity along SNAP25 and identified a region in intron 1 that shows signatures of balancing selection in humans. The estimated TMRCA (time to the most recent common ancestor) of the SNAP25 haplotype phylogeny amounted to 2.08 million years. The balancing selection signature is not secondary to demographic events or to biased gene conversion, and encompasses rs363039. This SNP has previously been associated to cognitive performances with contrasting results in different populations. We analysed this variant in two Italian cohorts in different age ranges and observed a significant genotype effect for rs363039 on verbal performances in females alone. Post hoc analysis revealed that the effect is driven by differences between heterozygotes and both homozygous genotypes. Thus, heterozygote females for rs363039 display higher verbal performances compared to both homozygotes. This finding was replicated in a cohort of Italian subjects suffering from neuromuscular diseases that do not affect cognition. Heterozygote advantage is one of the possible reasons underlying the maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations. The observation that heterozygotes for rs363039 display higher verbal abilities compared to homozygotes perfectly fits the underlying balancing selection model. Although caution should be used in inferring selective pressures from observed signatures, SNAP25 might represent the first description of an adaptively evolving gene with a role in cognition.
Article · Dec 2011 · Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: TLR3 recognizes dsRNA and activates antiviral immune responses through the production of inflammatory cytokines and type I IFNs. Genetic association studies have provided evidence concerning the role of a polymorphism in TLR3 (rs3775291, Leu412Phe) in viral infection susceptibility. We genotyped rs3775291 in a population of Spanish HIV-1-exposed seronegative (HESN) individuals who remain HIV seronegative despite repeated exposure through i.v. injection drug use (IDU-HESN individuals) as witnessed by their hepatitis C virus seropositivity. The frequency of individuals carrying at least one 412Phe allele was significantly higher in IDU-HESN individuals compared with that of a matched control sample (odds ratio for a dominant model = 1.87; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-3.34; p = 0.023). To replicate this finding, we analyzed a cohort of Italian, sexually HESN individuals. Similar results were obtained: the frequency of individuals carrying at least one 412Phe allele was significantly higher compared with that of a matched control sample (odds ratio, 1.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-3.08; p = 0.029). In vitro infection assays showed that in PBMCs carrying the 412Phe allele, HIV-1(Ba-L) replication was significantly reduced (p = 0.025) compared with that of Leu/Leu homozygous samples and was associated with a higher expression of factors suggestive of a state of immune activation (IL-6, CCL3, CD69). Similarly, stimulation of PBMCs with a TLR3 agonist indicated that the presence of the 412Phe allele results in a significantly increased expression of CD69 and higher production of proinflammatory cytokines including IL-6 and CCL3. The data of this study indicate that a common TLR3 allele confers immunologically mediated protection from HIV-1 and suggest the potential use of TLR3 triggering in HIV-1 immunotherapy.
Full-text Article · Dec 2011 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Interferons (IFNs) are cytokines that play a key role in innate and adaptive immune responses. Despite the large number of immunological studies of these molecules, the relative contributions of the numerous IFNs to human survival remain largely unknown. Here, we evaluated the extent to which natural selection has targeted the human IFNs and their receptors, to provide insight into the mechanisms that govern host defense in the natural setting. We found that some IFN-α subtypes, such as IFN-α6, IFN-α8, IFN-α13, and IFN-α14, as well as the type II IFN-γ, have evolved under strong purifying selection, attesting to their essential and nonredundant function in immunity to infection. Conversely, selective constraints have been relaxed for other type I IFNs, particularly for IFN-α10 and IFN-ε, which have accumulated missense or nonsense mutations at high frequencies within the population, suggesting redundancy in host defense. Finally, type III IFNs display geographically restricted signatures of positive selection in European and Asian populations, indicating that genetic variation at these genes has conferred a selective advantage to the host, most likely by increasing resistance to viral infection. Our population genetic analyses show that IFNs differ widely in their biological relevance, and highlight evolutionarily important determinants of host immune responsiveness.
Full-text Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Experimental Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Frequencies of genes displaying different values of improvement of explained variance with three distinct models, comprising only pathogen diversity, subsistence strategies and climate conditions (including annual temperature and precipitation rate ranges instead of mean levels), separately (A); and when testing each variable separately and taking the maximum value for each environmental category (B).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: UPGMA (Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean) clustering of populations according to the overall population genetic distance matrix. Each node of the dendogram represents a distinct population and is labeled regarding its continental origin (AF: Africa, OC: Oceania, EA: East Asia, CA: Central Asia, EU: Europe, AM: America).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Enrichment of genic (red line, panel A) or non-synonymous (red line, panel B) vs. intergenic SNPs (blue line, both panel) for different values of prediction accuracy. Peach region denotes 90th confidence interval computed with 1,000 bootstrap resamplings on overlapping blocks of 100 contiguous SNPs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Frequencies of genes on chromosome 1 displaying different values of improvement of explained variance with three distinct models, comprising only pathogen diversity, subsistence strategies and climate conditions, using low-coverage new-generation sequencing data from 1000 Genomes Project.