Genotypic variability based association identifies novel non-additive loci DHCR7 and IRF4 in sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis

Academic Article


  • Sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a highly heterogeneous disorder with only a few additive loci identified to date. We report a genotypic variability-based genome-wide association study (vGWAS) of six cohorts of sero-negative RA recruited in Europe and the US that were genotyped with the Immunochip. A two-stage approach was used: (1) a mixed model to partition dichotomous phenotypes into an additive component and non-additive residuals on the liability scale and (2) the Levene's test to assess equality of the residual variances across genotype groups. The vGWAS identified rs2852853 (P = 1.3e-08, DHCR7) and rs62389423 (P = 1.8e-05, near IRF4) in addition to two previously identified loci (HLA-DQB1 and ANKRD55), which were all statistically validated using cross validation. DHCR7 encodes an enzyme important in cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D and DHCR7 mutations are believed to be important for early humans to adapt to Northern Europe where residents have reduced ultraviolet-B exposure and tend to have light skin color. IRF4 is a key locus responsible for skin color, with a vitamin D receptor-binding interval. These vGWAS results together suggest that vitamin D deficiency is potentially causal of sero-negative RA and provide new insights into the pathogenesis of the disorder.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Scientific Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wei WH; Viatte S; Merriman TR; Barton A; Worthington J
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 1