An increasing proportion of the worldwide population is affected by allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis (AR), atopic dermatitis (AD) and allergic asthma and improved treatment options are needed particularly for severe, refractory disease. Allergic diseases are complex and development involves both environmental and genetic factors. Although the existence of a genetic component for allergy was first described almost 100 years ago, progress in gene identification has been hindered by lack of high throughput technologies to investigate genetic variation in large numbers of subjects. The development of Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS), a hypothesis-free method of interrogating large numbers of common variants spanning the entire genome in disease and non disease subjects has revolutionised our understanding of the genetics of allergic disease. Susceptibility genes for asthma, AR and AD have now been identified with confidence, suggesting there are common and distinct genetic loci associated with these diseases, providing novel insights into potential disease pathways and mechanisms. Genes involved in both adaptive and innate immune mechanisms have been identified, notably including multiple genes involved in epithelial function/secretion, suggesting that the airway epithelium may be particularly important in asthma. Interestingly, concordance/discordance between the genetic factors driving allergic traits such as IgE levels and disease states such as asthma have further supported the accumulating evidence for heterogeneity in these diseases. While GWAS have been useful and continue to identify novel genes for allergic diseases through increased samples sizes and phenotype refinement, future approaches will integrate analyses of rare variants, epigenetic mechanisms and eQTL approaches, leading to greater insight into the genetic basis of these diseases. Gene identification will improve our understanding of disease mechanisms and generate potential therapeutic opportunities. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 (5-HT?R) gene (HTR4) associated with lung function. The aims of this study were to i) investigate the expression profile of HTR4 in adult and fetal lung tissue and cultured airway cells, ii) further define HTR4 gene structure and iii) explore the potential functional implications of key SNPs using a bioinformatic approach.
Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) meta-analyses have identified a strong association signal for lung function, which maps to a region on 4q24 containing two oppositely transcribed genes: glutathione S-transferase, C-terminal domain containing (GSTCD) and integrator complex subunit 12 (INTS12). Both genes were found to be expressed in a range of human airway cell types. The promoter regions and transcription start sites were determined in mRNA from human lung and a novel splice variant was identified for each gene. We obtained the following evidence for GSTCD and INTS12 co-regulation and expression: (i) correlated mRNA expression was observed both via Q-PCR and in a lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) study, (ii) induction of both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA expression in human airway smooth muscle cells was seen in response to TGF?1, (iii) a lung eQTL study revealed that both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA levels positively correlate with percent predicted FEV1, and (iv) FEV1 GWAS associated SNPs in 4q24 were found to act as an eQTL for INTS12 in a number of tissues. In fixed sections of human lung tissue, GSTCD protein expression was ubiquitous, whereas INTS12 expression was predominantly in epithelial cells and pneumocytes. During human fetal lung development, GSTCD protein expression was observed to be highest at the earlier pseudoglandular stage (10-12 weeks) compared with the later canalicular stage (17-19 weeks), whereas INTS12 expression levels did not alter throughout these stages. Knowledge of the transcriptional and translational regulation and expression of GSTCD and INTS12 provides important insights into the potential role of these genes in determining lung function. Future work is warranted to fully define the functions of INTS12 and GSTCD.
Gut microbes influence animal health and thus, are potential targets for interventions that slow aging. Live E. coli provides the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans with vital micronutrients, such as folates that cannot be synthesized by animals. However, the microbe also limits C. elegans lifespan. Understanding these interactions may shed light on how intestinal microbes influence mammalian aging.
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