Rare Variants of ATG5 Are Likely to Be Associated With Chinese Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

PMID 26039132


Recently, common variants within or near ATG5, which is a key autophagy gene required for the formation of autophagosomes, have been identified as a candidate gene of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by several genome-wide association studies. Moreover, elevated ATG5 expression was observed in SLE as well as other autoimmune diseases. However, no significant associations between variants within ATG5 and SLE were identified in several Chinese populations. The present study was conducted to further check the genetic role of ATG5 by associating both common and rare variants of ATG5 in Chinese patients with lupus nephritis (LN), a major phenotype with poor prognosis in SLE.To detect the association of common variants of ATG5 with LN, 7 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) designed in immunochip and 4 SNPs reported to be associated with SLE were genotyped in 500 LN patients and 500 healthy controls. Furthermore, direct sequencing of exons and their flanking regions in 90 LN patients, 30 SLE patients, and 60 healthy controls were performed. Functional genomic annotation was performed by using public databases.None of the 11 tagging SNPs was observed to be associated with LN. By sequencing, 13 variants were identified, including 5 common SNPs, 7 not previously described, and 1 reported as rare variants (<1%) in the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Database or the 1000 Genome project. None of the 5 common SNPs showed significant association between patients and controls, whereas increased frequencies of rare or novel variants were observed in patients compared with healthy controls, with 6/90 in LN patients, 2/30 in SLE patients, and 1/163 in healthy controls. Although these rare variants were observed to be located in the flanking regions of exons instead of missense mutations, patients carrying them tended to have severe clinical phenotype, and in silicon analysis suggested their regulatory effects.Increased frequencies of rare variants of ATG5 were identified in patients with LN and SLE compared with healthy controls, highlighting a likely important role of rare ATG5 variants in Chinese SLE patients.