A functional variant in microRNA-146a promoter modulates its expression and confers disease risk for systemic lupus erythematosus.

A functional variant in microRNA-146a promoter modulates its expression and confers disease risk for systemic lupus erythematosus.

PLoS Genet. 2011 Jun;7(6):e1002128

Authors: Luo X, Yang W, Ye DQ, Cui H, Zhang Y, Hirankarn N, Qian X, Tang Y, Lau YL, de Vries N, Tak PP, Tsao BP, Shen N

Abstract
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease with a strong genetic predisposition, characterized by an upregulated type I interferon pathway. MicroRNAs are important regulators of immune homeostasis, and aberrant microRNA expression has been demonstrated in patients with autoimmune diseases. We recently identified miR-146a as a negative regulator of the interferon pathway and linked the abnormal activation of this pathway to the underexpression of miR-146a in SLE patients. To explore why the expression of miR-146a is reduced in SLE patients, we conducted short parallel sequencing of potentially regulatory regions of miR-146a and identified a novel genetic variant (rs57095329) in the promoter region exhibiting evidence for association with SLE that was replicated independently in 7,182 Asians (P(meta) = 2.74×10(-8), odds ratio = 1.29 [1.18-1.40]). The risk-associated G allele was linked to reduced expression of miR-146a in the peripheral blood leukocytes of the controls. Combined functional assays showed that the risk-associated G allele reduced the protein-binding affinity and activity of the promoter compared with those of the promoter containing the protective A allele. Transcription factor Ets-1, encoded by the lupus-susceptibility gene ETS1, identified in recent genome-wide association studies, binds near this variant. The manipulation of Ets-1 levels strongly affected miR-146a promoter activity in vitro; and the knockdown of Ets-1, mimicking its reduced expression in SLE, directly impaired the induction of miR-146a. We also observed additive effects of the risk alleles of miR-146a and ETS1. Our data identified and confirmed an association between a functional promoter variant of miR-146a and SLE. This risk allele had decreased binding to transcription factor Ets-1, contributing to reduced levels of miR-146a in SLE patients.

PMID: 21738483 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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