Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Identify Gene Sequences Associated With Favourable Immune Functions

26.01.2006


Identity Swap: Finding the variants that human history has favoured



Sequence differences in less than 0.2% of the 3-billion-base human genome play a vital role in a bewildering variety of human disease. Today, researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Cambridge University’s Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, together with international colleagues report in PLoS Genetics their detailed maps of differences implicated in disease as well as genes that are unchanged in recent human history.

The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) consists of hundreds of genes on human chromosome 6 that are important in most autoimmune conditions, when our biological defences turn on our own systems. The MHC has the major role in type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The MHC is also pivotal in response to infection, including malaria and AIDS.


Genes in the MHC can differ dramatically between people, and the differences among us affect medical events as diverse as tissue transplant rejection, arthritis, asthma and disease resistance. A detailed study of this region in different people will shed light on which genes are most important.

“We analysed the entire MHC region in detail from three individuals that carried different susceptibility to disease,” explained Dr Stephan Beck, leader of the team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Key differences were then further analysed in a much larger population of 140 DNA samples.

“Within the sea of over 20,000 sequence variations across the 4 million MHC bases, we found one island of stability,” continued Dr Beck. “A region of 160,000 bases that is up to 200-fold less variant between chromosomes sharing part of the same HLA type, suggesting these individuals most likely shared a common ancestor as recently as 50,000 years ago.”

Swapping of ancestral sequence blocks is a potential mechanism (identity-by-descent) whereby certain gene combinations, which presumably have favoured immunological advantage (e.g. resistance to infectious disease), can spread across haplotypes and populations.

Professor John Trowsdale, at the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, said, “The region, called DR-DQ, where we find this island of stability is one of the most variable in our genome, yet in some people it has been ‘fixed’. We suggest that ancestral DR-DQ blocks have been shuffled into different MHC backgrounds and subsequently expanded in frequency across European populations.

“These ‘fixed’ haplotypes might then have expanded because they protected against infection and disease. We hope to show, in further studies, whether this stable region was a key to disease resistance in our recent past.”

The study further described over 300 amino acid changing variants in gene sequences. These variants are strong candidates for functional studies to understand the role of variation in MHC-associated disease.

Autoimmune disease affects about 3 million people in the UK. The three haplotypes studied here display different susceptibilities to diseases such as type 1 diabetes, myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis.

For some common autoimmune diseases the MHC provides by far the largest genetic contribution by a single chromosome region. For example, the MHC accounts for at least 30% of the familial aggregation in type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Data generated by projects such as the MHC Haplotype Project will feed into the recently announced Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium,” explained Professor John Todd, Professor of Medical Genetics at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, “and the WTCCC search for the genetic signposts for eight common diseases will be accelerated by the new markers reported here. At an ever increasing rate, we are developing the necessary tools and sample collections to make a real difference to the study, diagnosis and, we hope, treatment of diseases such as TB, coronary heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.”

The MHC Haplotype Project is creating a public resource to assist the discovery of genetic factors influencing these medical traits and to shed light on the evolution of the MHC. Access to complete sequences across several MHC haplotypes that exhibit differences in disease susceptibility will help researchers to home in on specific variants (susceptibility alleles) and to rule out regions contributing to a given disease.

Haplotypes and the MHC

Haplotypes are combinations of gene and sequence variants that tend to occur together in an individual genome. This may be purely fortuitous, or it may reflect selection of given combinations (they have been successful in the past), or it may reflect a population bottleneck, where only a few, perhaps similar, genomes have contributed to the further population growth.

The MHC is among the most gene-dense regions of the human genome and the most variable, as might be expected from a region involved in fighting infection (as well as other functions). Over evolutionary time, the MHC has been driven to become the most variable region of our genome.

The MHC Haplotype Project is studying in fine detail the sequence of eight of the most common human haplotypes, selected for conferring protection against or susceptibility to common disease. The detailed analysis of the third of these eight is reported here and compared with the two previously described.

The COX haplotype has been associated with susceptibility to a wide range of diseases, including type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus and myasthenia gravis.

The PGF haplotype provides protection against type 1 diabetes and predisposes to other diseases such as multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

The QBL haplotype is positively associated with Graves’ disease and type 1 diabetes.

Paul Ocampo | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosgenetics.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New Model of T Cell Activation
27.05.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity
27.05.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Worldwide Success of Tyrolean Wastewater Treatment Technology

A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.

The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

11 million Euros for research into magnetic field sensors for medical diagnostics

27.05.2016 | Awards Funding

Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

New Model of T Cell Activation

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>