Human molecular genetics

Sex-specific linkage to total serum immunoglobulin E in families of children with asthma in Costa Rica.

PMID 17142250


Serum total immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a critical intermediate phenotype of allergic diseases. Although total IgE exhibits sexual dimorphism in humans (with males demonstrating higher IgE than females), the molecular basis of this difference is unknown. A genome-wide scan of 380 short-tandem repeat (STR) markers was performed in eight extended pedigrees of asthmatic children (n=655) from the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Genome-wide linkage analysis of total IgE was performed by variance component models. Among all subjects, only one genomic region (chromosome 7p15) showed modest evidence of linkage to total IgE (LOD=1.60). In contrast, a sex-stratified analysis revealed distinct genetic architectures of total IgE in males and females and identified significant linkage to total IgE on a novel male-specific locus on chromosome 20p12 (LOD=3.63 at 36 cM). Genotyping of additional STRs on chromosome 20 resulted in improved evidence for linkage (LOD=3.75 at 33 cM) and a 1.5 LOD-unit support interval for the linkage peak between 26 and 38 cM. Three polymorphisms in two genes on chromosome 20p12 (JAG1 and ANKRD5) were then found to be associated with total IgE in 420 nuclear families of Costa Rican children with asthma. Two of these polymorphisms (in JAG1) were significantly associated with total IgE in families of boys (n=264) but not in families of girls (n=156) with asthma. JAG1 is a hematopoetic cell growth factor that may regulate normal B-cell development. This is the first demonstration of a possible genetic basis for differences in total IgE between sexes.