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Functionally distinct ERAP1 and ERAP2 are a hallmark of HLA-A29-(Birdshot) Uveitis.

Hum. Mol. Genet. 2018, vol. 27, issue 24

Birdshot Uveitis (Birdshot) is a rare eye condition that affects HLA-A29-positive individuals and could be considered a prototypic member of the recently proposed "MHC-I-opathy" family. Genetic studies have pinpointed the ERAP1 and ERAP2 genes as shared associations across MHC-I-opathies, which suggests ERAP dysfunction may be a root cause for MHC-I-opathies. We mapped the ERAP1 and ERAP2 haplotypes in 84 Dutch cases and 890 controls. We identified association at variant rs10044354, which mediated a marked increase in ERAP2 expression. We also identified and cloned an independently associated ERAP1 haplotype (tagged by rs2287987) present in more than half of the cases; this ERAP1 haplotype is also the primary risk and protective haplotype for other MHC-I-opathies. We show that the risk ERAP1 haplotype conferred significantly altered expression of ERAP1 isoforms in transcriptomic data (n=360), resulting in lowered protein expression and distinct enzymatic activity. Both the association for rs10044354 (meta-analysis: OR[95% CI]=2.07[1.58-2.71], p=1.24 × 10(-7)) and rs2287987 (OR[95% CI]: =2.01[1.51-2.67], p=1.41 × 10(-6)) replicated and showed consistent direction of effect in an independent Spanish cohort of 46 cases and 2,103 controls. In both cohorts, the combined rs2287987-rs10044354 haplotype associated with Birdshot more strongly than either SNP alone (meta-analysis: p=3.9 × 10(-9)). Finally, we observed that ERAP2 protein expression is dependent on the ERAP1 background across three European populations (n=3,353). In conclusion, a functionally distinct combination of ERAP1 and ERAP2 are a hallmark of Birdshot and provide rationale for strategies designed to correct ERAP function for treatment of Birdshot and MHC-I-opathies more broadly.

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