The human AIRE gene at chromosome 21q22 is a genetic determinant for the predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis in Japanese population

Chikashi Terao, Ryo Yamada, Koichiro Ohmura, Meiko Takahashi, Takahisa Kawaguchi, Yuta Kochi, Yukinori Okada, Yusuke Nakamura, Kazuhiko Yamamoto, Inga Melchers, Mark Lathrop, Tsuneyo Mimori, Fumihiko Matsuda

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84 Scopus citations


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a typical complex trait and the major cause of chronic inflammation worldwide. Although multiple genetic loci have been shown for their association with the onset of RA, they cover only a part of its genetic components and are largely ethnicity-specific. To identify novel genetic factors related to the predisposition and prognosis of RA in Japanese, we conducted a large-scale genome-wide association (GWA) study. We performed a GWA analysis by scanning the genome of 1247 RA cases and 1486 controls for 277 420 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), followed by replication analysis using two independent sample sets consisting of 1865 cases and 1623 controls, and 2303 cases and 3380 controls. We identified two SNPs, rs2075876 and rs760426, in intron of the autoimmune regulator AIRE gene at chromosome 21q22 that showed strong associations with the disease (P = 3.6 3 10-9 and P = 4.4 3 10-8, respectively). Rs1800250, in exon7 of AIRE, was in strong linkage disequilibrium (r2 = 0.94) with rs2075876 and introduced an amino acid alteration (S278R) in the SAND domain of the AIRE protein. In silico analysis showed the decreased transcription of AIRE by the risk allele of rs2075876 compared with the alternative allele (P = 6.8 3 10-5). No correlation was observed between the rs2075876 genotype and quantitative traits reflecting the progression of RA. As AIRE is a key molecule which regulates the expression and presentation of self-antigens in thymic negative selection, its downregulation by genetic polymorphisms may result in the survival of auto-reactive T cells to trigger auto-inflammation in RA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddr161
Pages (from-to)2680-2685
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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