Identification of novel susceptibility genes associated with seven autoimmune disorders using whole genome molecular interaction networks.

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Journal of autoimmunity


Convergent evidence from multiple and independent genetics studies implicate a small number of genes that predispose individuals to multiple autoimmune disorders (AuD). These intersecting loci reinforced the hypothesis that disorders with overlapping etiology group into a cluster of closely related genes within a whole genome molecular interaction network. We tested the hypothesis that "biological network proximity" within a whole genome molecular interaction network can be used to inform the search for multigene inheritance. Using a set of nine previously published genome wide association studies (GWAS) of AuD genes, we generated AuD-specific molecular interaction networks to identify networks of associated genes. We show that all nine "seed genes" can be connected within a 35-member network via interactions with 26 connecting genes. We show that this network is more connected than expected by chance, and 13 of the connecting genes showed association with multiple AuD upon GWAS reanalysis. Furthermore, we report association of SNPs in five new genes (IL10RA, DGKA, GRB2, STAT5A, and NFATC2) which were not previously considered as AuD candidates, and show significant association in novel disease samples of Crohn's disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. Furthermore, we show that the connecting genes show no association in four non-AuD GWAS. Finally, we test the connecting genes in psoriasis GWAS, and show association to previously identified loci and report new loci. These findings support the hypothesis that molecular interaction networks can be used to inform the search for multigene disease etiology, especially for disorders with overlapping etiology.



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