register interest

Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski

Research Area: Global Health
Technology Exchange: Bioinformatics, SNP typing and Statistical genetics
Scientific Themes: Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: human genome, malaria, network, epidemiology, informatics and variation
Web Links:

Dominic Kwiatkowski is director of the Centre for Genomics and Global Health. He holds a joint position as MRC Clinical Research Professor at Oxford University, and as a Principal Investigator at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Dominic's labs at Oxford and Sanger work together as a single group. The overarching goal of their research is to translate advances in genome science into clinical and epidemiological applications that will help to reduce the burden of infectious disease in the developing world. They are developing methods for large-scale analysis of genome variation at the population level and using these to investigate, for example, how children living in malaria-endemic regions develop protective immunity against malaria, or how malaria parasites develop resistance against anti-malarial drugs. They work mainly on malaria, but many of the tools and methodologies that they are developing also have applications for other diseases.

One of the main interests of Dominic's research group is helping to develop data-sharing networks to tackle fundamental scientific problems that can be solved only by engaging many different research groups around the world. As the MalariaGEN Resource Centre, the group provides support and training in genetics, statistics, informatics and ethics for researchers in 15 malaria-endemic countries. The group also serves as the informatics hub of the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network, which works with the WHO to bring together data from researchers, clinicians and public health agencies around the world.

Dominic trained in clinical paediatrics. He started research on cytokines in Charles Dinarello's laboratory in Boston in 1985, and the following year he went to The Gambia to study the molecular mechanism of malaria fever with Brian Greenwood. In 1989 he moved to Oxford University Department of Paediatrics, while maintaining a clinical research programme in The Gambia. His group started working on genetics around 1994, as a way of getting at basic questions about malaria pathogenesis. In 2000 his laboratory moved to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, and in 2005 he took up a joint appointment at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Name Department Institution Country
Sodiomon Sirima Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme (CNRFP) Burkina Faso
Eric Akum Achidi University of Buea Cameroon
David Conway MRC Laboratories Gambia
Tsiri Agbenyega Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana
Kwadwo Koram Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research Ghana
David Modiano University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Italy
Malcolm Molyneux Blantyre Malaria Project Malawi
Ogobara Doumbo University of Bamako Mali
Pascal Michon Institute for Medical Research Papua New Guinea
Nadira Karunaweera University of Colombo Sri Lanka
Muntaser Ibrahim University of Khartoum Sudan
Dr Julie Makani Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Dar es Salaam Tanzania
Martha Lemnge National Institute for Medical Research Tanzania
Pratap Sinhasivanon Mahidol University Thailand
Professor Jeremy Farrar Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Chris V Plowe University of Maryland United States
Srimuang K, Miotto O, Lim P, Fairhurst RM, Kwiatkowski DP, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M, Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration. 2016. Analysis of anti-malarial resistance markers in pfmdr1 and pfcrt across Southeast Asia in the Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 541. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Declining anti-malarial efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy, and reduced Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility to individual anti-malarials are being documented across an expanding area of Southeast Asia (SEA). Genotypic markers complement phenotypic studies in assessing the efficacy of individual anti-malarials. METHODS: The markers pfmdr1 and pfcrt were genotyped in parasite samples obtained in 2011-2014 at 14 TRAC (Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration) sites in mainland Southeast Asia using a combination of PCR and next-generation sequencing methods. RESULTS: Pfmdr1 amplification, a marker of mefloquine and lumefantrine resistance, was highly prevalent at Mae Sot on the Thailand-Myanmar border (59.8% of isolates) and common (more than 10%) at sites in central Myanmar, eastern Thailand and western Cambodia; however, its prevalence was lower than previously documented in Pailin, western Cambodia. The pfmdr1 Y184F mutation was common, particularly in and around Cambodia, and the F1226Y mutation was found in about half of samples in Mae Sot. The functional significance of these two mutations remains unclear. Other previously documented pfmdr1 mutations were absent or very rare in the region. The pfcrt mutation K76T associated with chloroquine resistance was found in 98.2% of isolates. The CVIET haplotype made up 95% or more of isolates in western SEA while the CVIDT haplotype was common (30-40% of isolates) in north and northeastern Cambodia, southern Laos, and southern Vietnam. CONCLUSIONS: These findings generate cause for concern regarding the mid-term efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine in Myanmar, while the absence of resistance-conferring pfmdr1 mutations and SVMNT pfcrt haplotypes suggests that amodiaquine could be an efficacious component of anti-malarial regimens in SEA.

Miles A, Iqbal Z, Vauterin P, Pearson R, Campino S, Theron M, Gould K, Mead D, Drury E, O'Brien J et al. 2016. Indels, structural variation, and recombination drive genomic diversity in Plasmodium falciparum. Genome Res, 26 (9), pp. 1288-1299. | Show Abstract | Read more

The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has a great capacity for evolutionary adaptation to evade host immunity and develop drug resistance. Current understanding of parasite evolution is impeded by the fact that a large fraction of the genome is either highly repetitive or highly variable and thus difficult to analyze using short-read sequencing technologies. Here, we describe a resource of deep sequencing data on parents and progeny from genetic crosses, which has enabled us to perform the first genome-wide, integrated analysis of SNP, indel and complex polymorphisms, using Mendelian error rates as an indicator of genotypic accuracy. These data reveal that indels are exceptionally abundant, being more common than SNPs and thus the dominant mode of polymorphism within the core genome. We use the high density of SNP and indel markers to analyze patterns of meiotic recombination, confirming a high rate of crossover events and providing the first estimates for the rate of non-crossover events and the length of conversion tracts. We observe several instances of meiotic recombination within copy number variants associated with drug resistance, demonstrating a mechanism whereby fitness costs associated with resistance mutations could be compensated and greater phenotypic plasticity could be acquired.

Auburn S, Serre D, Pearson RD, Amato R, Sriprawat K, To S, Handayuni I, Suwanarusk R, Russell B, Drury E et al. 2016. Genomic Analysis Reveals a Common Breakpoint in Amplifications of the Plasmodium vivax Multidrug Resistance 1 Locus in Thailand. J Infect Dis, 214 (8), pp. 1235-1242. | Show Abstract | Read more

In regions of coendemicity for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax where mefloquine is used to treat P. falciparum infection, drug pressure mediated by increased copy numbers of the multidrug resistance 1 gene (pvmdr1) may select for mefloquine-resistant P. vivax Surveillance is not undertaken routinely owing in part to methodological challenges in detection of gene amplification. Using genomic data on 88 P. vivax samples from western Thailand, we identified pvmdr1 amplification in 17 isolates, all exhibiting tandem copies of a 37.6-kilobase pair region with identical breakpoints. A novel breakpoint-specific polymerase chain reaction assay was designed to detect the amplification. The assay demonstrated high sensitivity, identifying amplifications in 13 additional, polyclonal infections. Application to 132 further samples identified the common breakpoint in all years tested (2003-2015), with a decline in prevalence after 2012 corresponding to local discontinuation of mefloquine regimens. Assessment of the structure of pvmdr1 amplification in other geographic regions will yield information about the population-specificity of the breakpoints and underlying amplification mechanisms.

Crosnier C, Iqbal Z, Knuepfer E, Maciuca S, Perrin AJ, Kamuyu G, Goulding D, Bustamante LY, Miles A, Moore SC et al. 2016. Binding of Plasmodium falciparum Merozoite Surface Proteins DBLMSP and DBLMSP2 to Human Immunoglobulin M Is Conserved among Broadly Diverged Sequence Variants. J Biol Chem, 291 (27), pp. 14285-14299. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diversity at pathogen genetic loci can be driven by host adaptive immune selection pressure and may reveal proteins important for parasite biology. Population-based genome sequencing of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for the most severe form of malaria, has highlighted two related polymorphic genes called dblmsp and dblmsp2, which encode Duffy binding-like (DBL) domain-containing proteins located on the merozoite surface but whose function remains unknown. Using recombinant proteins and transgenic parasites, we show that DBLMSP and DBLMSP2 directly and avidly bind human IgM via their DBL domains. We used whole genome sequence data from over 400 African and Asian P. falciparum isolates to show that dblmsp and dblmsp2 exhibit extreme protein polymorphism in their DBL domain, with multiple variants of two major allelic classes present in every population tested. Despite this variability, the IgM binding function was retained across diverse sequence representatives. Although this interaction did not seem to have an effect on the ability of the parasite to invade red blood cells, binding of DBLMSP and DBLMSP2 to IgM inhibited the overall immunoreactivity of these proteins to IgG from patients who had been exposed to the parasite. This suggests that IgM binding might mask these proteins from the host humoral immune system.

Pearson RD, Amato R, Auburn S, Miotto O, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Suon S, Mao S, Noviyanti R, Trimarsanto H et al. 2016. Genomic analysis of local variation and recent evolution in Plasmodium vivax. Nat Genet, 48 (8), pp. 959-964. | Show Abstract | Read more

The widespread distribution and relapsing nature of Plasmodium vivax infection present major challenges for the elimination of malaria. To characterize the genetic diversity of this parasite in individual infections and across the population, we performed deep genome sequencing of >200 clinical samples collected across the Asia-Pacific region and analyzed data on >300,000 SNPs and nine regions of the genome with large copy number variations. Individual infections showed complex patterns of genetic structure, with variation not only in the number of dominant clones but also in their level of relatedness and inbreeding. At the population level, we observed strong signals of recent evolutionary selection both in known drug resistance genes and at new loci, and these varied markedly between geographical locations. These findings demonstrate a dynamic landscape of local evolutionary adaptation in the parasite population and provide a foundation for genomic surveillance to guide effective strategies for control and elimination of P. vivax.

Busby GBJ, Band G, Le QS, Jallow M, Bougama E, Mangano VD, Amenga-Etego LN, Enimil A, Apinjoh T, Ndila CM et al. 2016. Admixture into and within sub-Saharan Africa eLife, 5 (JUN2016), | Show Abstract | Read more

© Busby et al.Similarity between two individuals in the combination of genetic markers along their chromosomes indicates shared ancestry and can be used to identify historical connections between different population groups due to admixture. We use a genome-wide, haplotype-based, analysis to characterise the structure of genetic diversity and gene-flow in a collection of 48 sub-Saharan African groups. We show that coastal populations experienced an influx of Eurasian haplotypes over the last 7000 years, and that Eastern and Southern Niger-Congo speaking groups share ancestry with Central West Africans as a result of recent population expansions. In fact, most sub-Saharan populations share ancestry with groups from outside of their current geographic region as a result of gene-flow within the last 4000 years. Our in-depth analysis provides insight into haplotype sharing across different ethno-linguistic groups and the recent movement of alleles into new environments, both of which are relevant to studies of genetic epidemiology.

Mackinnon MJ, Ndila C, Uyoga S, Macharia A, Snow RW, Band G, Rautanen A, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Williams TN. 2016. Environmental Correlation Analysis for Genes Associated with Protection against Malaria. Mol Biol Evol, 33 (5), pp. 1188-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genome-wide searches for loci involved in human resistance to malaria are currently being conducted on a large scale in Africa using case-control studies. Here, we explore the utility of an alternative approach-"environmental correlation analysis, ECA," which tests for clines in allele frequencies across a gradient of an environmental selection pressure-to identify genes that have historically protected against death from malaria. We collected genotype data from 12,425 newborns on 57 candidate malaria resistance loci and 9,756 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected at random from across the genome, and examined their allele frequencies for geographic correlations with long-term malaria prevalence data based on 84,042 individuals living under different historical selection pressures from malaria in coastal Kenya. None of the 57 candidate SNPs showed significant (P < 0.05) correlations in allele frequency with local malaria transmission intensity after adjusting for population structure and multiple testing. In contrast, two of the random SNPs that had highly significant correlations (P < 0.01) were in genes previously linked to malaria resistance, namely, CDH13, encoding cadherin 13, and HS3ST3B1, encoding heparan sulfate 3-O-sulfotransferase 3B1. Both proteins play a role in glycoprotein-mediated cell-cell adhesion which has been widely implicated in cerebral malaria, the most life-threatening form of this disease. Other top genes, including CTNND2 which encodes δ-catenin, a molecular partner to cadherin, were significantly enriched in cadherin-mediated pathways affecting inflammation of the brain vascular endothelium. These results demonstrate the utility of ECA in the discovery of novel genes and pathways affecting infectious disease.

Busby GB, Band G, Si Le Q, Jallow M, Bougama E, Mangano VD, Amenga-Etego LN, Enimil A, Apinjoh T, Ndila CM et al. 2016. Admixture into and within sub-Saharan Africa. Elife, 5 | Show Abstract | Read more

Similarity between two individuals in the combination of genetic markers along their chromosomes indicates shared ancestry and can be used to identify historical connections between different population groups due to admixture. We use a genome-wide, haplotype-based, analysis to characterise the structure of genetic diversity and gene-flow in a collection of 48 sub-Saharan African groups. We show that coastal populations experienced an influx of Eurasian haplotypes over the last 7000 years, and that Eastern and Southern Niger-Congo speaking groups share ancestry with Central West Africans as a result of recent population expansions. In fact, most sub-Saharan populations share ancestry with groups from outside of their current geographic region as a result of gene-flow within the last 4000 years. Our in-depth analysis provides insight into haplotype sharing across different ethno-linguistic groups and the recent movement of alleles into new environments, both of which are relevant to studies of genetic epidemiology.

Campino S, Benavente ED, Assefa S, Thompson E, Drought LG, Taylor CJ, Gorvett Z, Carret CK, Flueck C, Ivens AC et al. 2016. Genomic variation in two gametocyte non-producing Plasmodium falciparum clonal lines. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 229. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Transmission of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum from humans to the mosquito vector requires differentiation of a sub-population of asexual forms replicating within red blood cells into non-dividing male and female gametocytes. The nature of the molecular mechanism underlying this key differentiation event required for malaria transmission is not fully understood. METHODS: Whole genome sequencing was used to examine the genomic diversity of the gametocyte non-producing 3D7-derived lines F12 and A4. These lines were used in the recent detection of the PF3D7_1222600 locus (encoding PfAP2-G), which acts as a genetic master switch that triggers gametocyte development. RESULTS: The evolutionary changes from the 3D7 parental strain through its derivatives F12 (culture-passage derived cloned line) and A4 (transgenic cloned line) were identified. The genetic differences including the formation of chimeric var genes are presented. CONCLUSION: A genomics resource is provided for the further study of gametocytogenesis or other phenotypes using these parasite lines.

MalariaGEN Plasmodium falciparum Community Project. 2016. Genomic epidemiology of artemisinin resistant malaria. Elife, 5 (MARCH2016), | Show Abstract | Read more

The current epidemic of artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia is the result of a soft selective sweep involving at least 20 independent kelch13 mutations. In a large global survey, we find that kelch13 mutations which cause resistance in Southeast Asia are present at low frequency in Africa. We show that African kelch13 mutations have originated locally, and that kelch13 shows a normal variation pattern relative to other genes in Africa, whereas in Southeast Asia there is a great excess of non-synonymous mutations, many of which cause radical amino-acid changes. Thus, kelch13 is not currently undergoing strong selection in Africa, despite a deep reservoir of variations that could potentially allow resistance to emerge rapidly. The practical implications are that public health surveillance for artemisinin resistance should not rely on kelch13 data alone, and interventions to prevent resistance must account for local evolutionary conditions, shown by genomic epidemiology to differ greatly between geographical regions.

Parker M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2016. The ethics of sustainable genomic research in Africa. Genome Biol, 17 (1), pp. 44. | Show Abstract | Read more

Michael Parker and Dominic Kwiatkowski discuss important ethical considerations for sustainable genomics research in Africa.

Shah SS, Rockett KA, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Bojang KA, Pinder M, Jeffreys A, Craik R, Hubbart C, Wellems TE et al. 2016. Heterogeneous alleles comprising G6PD deficiency trait in West Africa exert contrasting effects on two major clinical presentations of severe malaria. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 13. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency exhibits considerable allelic heterogeneity which manifests with variable biochemical and clinical penetrance. It has long been thought that G6PD deficiency confers partial protection against severe malaria, however prior genetic association studies have disagreed with regard to the strength and specificity of a protective effect, which might reflect differences in the host genetic background, environmental influences, or in the specific clinical phenotypes considered. METHODS: A case-control association study of severe malaria was conducted in The Gambia, a region in West Africa where there is considerable allelic heterogeneity underlying expression of G6PD deficiency trait, evaluating the three major nonsynonymous polymorphisms known to be associated with enzyme deficiency (A968G, T542A, and C202T) in a cohort of 3836 controls and 2379 severe malaria cases. RESULTS: Each deficiency allele exhibited a similar trend toward protection against severe malaria overall (15-26% reduced risk); however, in stratifying severe malaria to two of its constituent clinical subphenotypes, severe malarial anaemia (SMA) and cerebral malaria (CM), the three deficiency alleles exhibited trends of opposing effect, with risk conferred to SMA and protection with respect to CM. To assess the overall effect of G6PD deficiency trait, deficiency alleles found across all three loci were pooled. G6PD deficiency trait was found to be significantly associated with protection from severe malaria overall (OR 0.83 [0.75-0.92], P = 0.0006), but this was limited to CM (OR 0.73 [0.61-0.87], P = 0.0005), with a trend toward increased risk for SMA, especially in fully-deficient individuals (OR 1.43 [0.99-2.08], P = 0.056). Sex-stratified testing largely comported with these results, with evidence suggesting that protection by G6PD deficiency trait is conferred to both males and females, though susceptibility to SMA may be restricted to fully-deficient male hemizygotes. CONCLUSIONS: In a part of Africa where multiple alleles contribute to expression of G6PD deficiency trait, these findings clarify and extend previous work done in populations where a single variant predominates, and taken together suggest a causal role for G6PD deficiency trait itself with respect to severe malaria, with opposing effects seen on two major clinical subphenotypes.

Band G, Rockett KA, Spencer CCA, Kwiatkowski DP, Band G, Le QS, Clarke GM, Kivinen K, Leffler EM, Rockett KA et al. 2015. A novel locus of resistance to severe malaria in a region of ancient balancing selection NATURE, 526 (7572), pp. 253-+. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.The high prevalence of sickle haemoglobin in Africa shows that malaria has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, but surprisingly few other polymorphisms have been proven to confer resistance to malaria in large epidemiological studies. To address this problem, we conducted a multi-centre genome-wide association study (GWAS) of life-threatening Plasmodium falciparum infection (severe malaria) in over 11,000 African children, with replication data in a further 14,000 individuals. Here we report a novel malaria resistance locus close to a cluster of genes encoding glycophorins that are receptors for erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum. We identify a haplotype at this locus that provides 33% protection against severe malaria (odds ratio= 0.67, 95% confidence interval= 0.60-0.76, P value= 9.5× 10-11) and is linked to polymorphisms that have previously been shown to have features of ancient balancing selection, on the basis of haplotype sharing between humans and chimpanzees. Taken together with previous observations on the malaria-protective role of blood group O, these data reveal that two of the strongest GWAS signals for severe malaria lie in or close to genes encoding the glycosylated surface coat of the erythrocyte cell membrane, both within regions of the genome where it appears that evolution has maintained diversity for millions of years. These findings provide new insights into the host-parasite interactions that are critical in determining the outcome of malaria infection.

Uyoga S, Ndila CM, Macharia AW, Nyutu G, Shah S, Peshu N, Clarke GM, Kwiatkowski DP, Rockett KA, Williams TN, MalariaGEN Consortium. 2015. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and the risk of malaria and other diseases in children in Kenya: a case-control and a cohort study. Lancet Haematol, 2 (10), pp. e437-e444. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The global prevalence of X-linked glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is thought to be a result of selection by malaria, but epidemiological studies have yielded confusing results. We investigated the relationships between G6PD deficiency and both malaria and non-malarial illnesses among children in Kenya. METHODS: We did this study in Kilifi County, Kenya, where the G6PD c.202T allele is the only significant cause of G6PD deficiency. We tested the associations between G6PD deficiency and severe and complicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria through a case-control study of 2220 case and 3940 control children. Cases were children aged younger than 14 years, who visited the high dependency ward of Kilifi County Hospital with severe malaria between March 1, 1998, and Feb 28, 2010. Controls were children aged between 3-12 months who were born within the same study area between August 2006, and September 2010. We assessed the association between G6PD deficiency and both uncomplicated malaria and other common diseases of childhood in a cohort study of 752 children aged younger than 10 years. Participants of this study were recruited from a representative sample of households within the Ngerenya and Chonyi areas of Kilifi County between Aug 1, 1998, and July 31, 2001. The primary outcome measure for the case-control study was the odds ratio for hospital admission with severe malaria (computed by logistic regression) while for the cohort study it was the incidence rate ratio for uncomplicated malaria and non-malaria illnesses (computed by Poisson regression), by G6PD deficiency category. FINDINGS: 2863 (73%) children in the control group versus 1643 (74%) in the case group had the G6PD normal genotype, 639 (16%) versus 306 (14%) were girls heterozygous for G6PD c.202T, and 438 (11%) versus 271 (12%) children were either homozygous girls or hemizygous boys. Compared with boys and girls without G6PD deficiency, we found significant protection from severe malaria (odds ratio [OR] 0·82, 95% CI 0·70-0·97; p=0·020) among G6PD c.202T heterozygous girls but no evidence for protection among G6PD c.202T hemizygous boys and homozygous girls (OR 1·18, 0·99-1·40; p=0·056). Median follow-up for the mild disease cohort study was 2·24 years (IQR 2·22-2·85). G6PD c.202T had no effect on other common diseases of childhood in heterozygous girls (incidence rate ratio 0·98, 95% CI 0·86-1·11; p=0·82) or homozygous girls or hemizygous boys (0·93, 0·82-1·04; p=0·25), with the sole exception of a marginally significant increase in the incidence of helminth infections among heterozygous girls. INTERPRETATION: Heterozygous girls might be the driving force for the positive selection of G6PD deficiency alleles. Further studies are needed to definitively establish the mechanisms by which G6PD deficiency confers an advantage against malaria in heterozygous individuals. Such studies could lead to the development of new treatments. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council, European Union, and Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative).

Duffy CW, Assefa SA, Abugri J, Amoako N, Owusu-Agyei S, Anyorigiya T, MacInnis B, Kwiatkowski DP, Conway DJ, Awandare GA. 2015. Comparison of genomic signatures of selection on Plasmodium falciparum between different regions of a country with high malaria endemicity BMC Genomics, | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Duffy et al.Background: Genome wide sequence analyses of malaria parasites from widely separated areas of the world have identified contrasting population structures and signatures of selection. To compare relatively closely situated but ecologically contrasting regions within an endemic African country, population samples of Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates were collected in Ghana from Kintampo in the central forest-savannah area, and Navrongo in a drier savannah area ~350 km to the north with more seasonally-restricted transmission. Parasite DNA was sequenced and paired-end reads mapped to the P. falciparum reference genome. Results: High coverage genome wide sequence data for 85 different clinical isolates enabled analysis of 121,712 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The local populations had similar proportions of mixed genotype infections, similar SNP allele frequency distributions, and eleven chromosomal regions had elevated integrated haplotype scores (|iHS|) in both. A between-population Rsb metric comparing extended haplotype homozygosity indicated a stronger signal within Kintampo for one of these regions (on chromosome 14) and in Navrongo for two of these regions (on chromosomes 10 and 13). At least one gene in each of these identified regions is a potential target of locally varying selection. The candidates include genes involved in parasite development in mosquitoes, members of variant-expressed multigene families, and a leading vaccine-candidate target of immunity. Conclusions: Against a background of very similar population structure and selection signatures in the P. falciparum populations of Ghana, three narrow genomic regions showed evidence indicating local differences in historical timing or intensity of selection. Sampling of closely situated populations across heterogeneous environments has potential to refine the mapping of important loci under temporally or spatially varying selection.

Miotto O, Amato R, Ashley EA, MacInnis B, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Mead D, Oyola SO, Dhorda M et al. 2015. Genetic architecture of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Genet, 47 (3), pp. 226-234. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a large multicenter genome-wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin, the frontline antimalarial drug. Across 15 locations in Southeast Asia, we identified at least 20 mutations in kelch13 (PF3D7_1343700) affecting the encoded propeller and BTB/POZ domains, which were associated with a slow parasite clearance rate after treatment with artemisinin derivatives. Nonsynonymous polymorphisms in fd (ferredoxin), arps10 (apicoplast ribosomal protein S10), mdr2 (multidrug resistance protein 2) and crt (chloroquine resistance transporter) also showed strong associations with artemisinin resistance. Analysis of the fine structure of the parasite population showed that the fd, arps10, mdr2 and crt polymorphisms are markers of a genetic background on which kelch13 mutations are particularly likely to arise and that they correlate with the contemporary geographical boundaries and population frequencies of artemisinin resistance. These findings indicate that the risk of new resistance-causing mutations emerging is determined by specific predisposing genetic factors in the underlying parasite population.

Shelton JM, Corran P, Risley P, Silva N, Hubbart C, Jeffreys A, Rowlands K, Craik R, Cornelius V, Hensmann M et al. 2015. Genetic determinants of anti-malarial acquired immunity in a large multi-centre study. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 333. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Many studies report associations between human genetic factors and immunity to malaria but few have been reliably replicated. These studies are usually country-specific, use small sample sizes and are not directly comparable due to differences in methodologies. This study brings together samples and data collected from multiple sites across Africa and Asia to use standardized methods to look for consistent genetic effects on anti-malarial antibody levels. METHODS: Sera, DNA samples and clinical data were collected from 13,299 individuals from ten sites in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka using standardized methods. DNA was extracted and typed for 202 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms with known associations to malaria or antibody production, and antibody levels to four clinical grade malarial antigens [AMA1, MSP1, MSP2, and (NANP)4] plus total IgE were measured by ELISA techniques. Regression models were used to investigate the associations of clinical and genetic factors with antibody levels. RESULTS: Malaria infection increased levels of antibodies to malaria antigens and, as expected, stable predictors of anti-malarial antibody levels included age, seasonality, location, and ethnicity. Correlations between antibodies to blood-stage antigens AMA1, MSP1 and MSP2 were higher between themselves than with antibodies to the (NANP)4 epitope of the pre-erythrocytic circumsporozoite protein, while there was little or no correlation with total IgE levels. Individuals with sickle cell trait had significantly lower antibody levels to all blood-stage antigens, and recessive homozygotes for CD36 (rs321198) had significantly lower anti-malarial antibody levels to MSP2. CONCLUSION: Although the most significant finding with a consistent effect across sites was for sickle cell trait, its effect is likely to be via reducing a microscopically positive parasitaemia rather than directly on antibody levels. However, this study does demonstrate a framework for the feasibility of combining data from sites with heterogeneous malaria transmission levels across Africa and Asia with which to explore genetic effects on anti-malarial immunity.

Duffy CW, Assefa SA, Abugri J, Amoako N, Owusu-Agyei S, Anyorigiya T, MacInnis B, Kwiatkowski DP, Conway DJ, Awandare GA. 2015. Comparison of genomic signatures of selection on Plasmodium falciparum between different regions of a country with high malaria endemicity. BMC Genomics, 16 (1), pp. 527. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Genome wide sequence analyses of malaria parasites from widely separated areas of the world have identified contrasting population structures and signatures of selection. To compare relatively closely situated but ecologically contrasting regions within an endemic African country, population samples of Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates were collected in Ghana from Kintampo in the central forest-savannah area, and Navrongo in a drier savannah area ~350 km to the north with more seasonally-restricted transmission. Parasite DNA was sequenced and paired-end reads mapped to the P. falciparum reference genome. RESULTS: High coverage genome wide sequence data for 85 different clinical isolates enabled analysis of 121,712 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The local populations had similar proportions of mixed genotype infections, similar SNP allele frequency distributions, and eleven chromosomal regions had elevated integrated haplotype scores (|iHS|) in both. A between-population Rsb metric comparing extended haplotype homozygosity indicated a stronger signal within Kintampo for one of these regions (on chromosome 14) and in Navrongo for two of these regions (on chromosomes 10 and 13). At least one gene in each of these identified regions is a potential target of locally varying selection. The candidates include genes involved in parasite development in mosquitoes, members of variant-expressed multigene families, and a leading vaccine-candidate target of immunity. CONCLUSIONS: Against a background of very similar population structure and selection signatures in the P. falciparum populations of Ghana, three narrow genomic regions showed evidence indicating local differences in historical timing or intensity of selection. Sampling of closely situated populations across heterogeneous environments has potential to refine the mapping of important loci under temporally or spatially varying selection.

Dewasurendra RL, Rockett KA, Fernando SD, Carter R, Kwiatkowski DP, Karunaweera ND, MalariaGEN Consortium. 2015. G6PD gene variants and its association with malaria in a Sri Lankan population. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that plays an important role in many cellular functions. Deficiency of this enzyme results from point mutations in the coding region of the G6PD gene. G6PD-deficiency is important in malaria, as certain anti-malarial drugs could induce haemolysis in such patients and mutations in this gene may influence the susceptibility or resistance to the disease. Detailed information on genetic variations in the G6PD gene for Sri Lankan populations is yet to be revealed. This study describes a set of G6PD mutations present in a Sri Lankan population and their association with uncomplicated malaria. METHODS: DNA was extracted from 1,051 individuals. Sixty-eight SNPs in the region of the G6PD gene were genotyped. A database created during the 1992-1993 malaria epidemic for the same individuals was used to assess the associations between the G6PD SNPs and parasite density or disease severity of uncomplicated malaria infections. Linkage disequilibrium for SNPs and haplotype structures were identified. RESULTS: Seventeen genetic variants were polymorphic in this population. The mutant allele was the major allele in 9 SNPs. Common G6PD variants already described in Asians or South-Asians seemed to be absent or rare in this population. Both the severity of disease in uncomplicated malaria infections and parasitaemia were significantly lower in males infected with Plasmodium falciparum carrying the ancestral allele of rs915942 compared to those carrying the mutant allele. The parasite density of males infected with P. falciparum was significantly lower also in those who possessed the mutant alleles of rs5986877, rs7879049 and rs7053878. Two haplotype blocks were identified, where the recombination rates were higher in males with no history of malaria when compared to those who have experienced the disease in the past. CONCLUSIONS: This is the most detailed survey of G6PD SNPs in a Sri Lankan population undertaken so far that enabled novel description of single nucleotide polymorphisms within the G6PD gene. A few of these genetic variations identified, demonstrated a tendency to be associated with either disease severity or parasite density in uncomplicated disease in males. Known G6PD gene polymorphisms already described from elsewhere were either absent or rare in the local study population.

Mok S, Ashley EA, Ferreira PE, Zhu L, Lin Z, Yeo T, Chotivanich K, Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Dhorda M et al. 2015. Drug resistance. Population transcriptomics of human malaria parasites reveals the mechanism of artemisinin resistance. Science, 347 (6220), pp. 431-435. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum threatens global efforts to control and eliminate malaria. Polymorphisms in the kelch domain-carrying protein K13 are associated with artemisinin resistance, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. We analyzed the in vivo transcriptomes of 1043 P. falciparum isolates from patients with acute malaria and found that artemisinin resistance is associated with increased expression of unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways involving the major PROSC and TRiC chaperone complexes. Artemisinin-resistant parasites also exhibit decelerated progression through the first part of the asexual intraerythrocytic development cycle. These findings suggest that artemisinin-resistant parasites remain in a state of decelerated development at the young ring stage, whereas their up-regulated UPR pathways mitigate protein damage caused by artemisinin. The expression profiles of UPR-related genes also associate with the geographical origin of parasite isolates, further suggesting their role in emerging artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network, Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network. 2014. Reappraisal of known malaria resistance loci in a large multicenter study. Nat Genet, 46 (11), pp. 1197-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many human genetic associations with resistance to malaria have been reported, but few have been reliably replicated. We collected data on 11,890 cases of severe malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum and 17,441 controls from 12 locations in Africa, Asia and Oceania. We tested 55 SNPs in 27 loci previously reported to associate with severe malaria. There was evidence of association at P < 1 × 10(-4) with the HBB, ABO, ATP2B4, G6PD and CD40LG loci, but previously reported associations at 22 other loci did not replicate in the multicenter analysis. The large sample size made it possible to identify authentic genetic effects that are heterogeneous across populations or phenotypes, with a striking example being the main African form of G6PD deficiency, which reduced the risk of cerebral malaria but increased the risk of severe malarial anemia. The finding that G6PD deficiency has opposing effects on different fatal complications of P. falciparum infection indicates that the evolutionary origins of this common human genetic disorder are more complex than previously supposed.

Oyola SO, Manske M, Campino S, Claessens A, Hamilton WL, Kekre M, Drury E, Mead D, Gu Y, Miles A et al. 2014. Optimized whole-genome amplification strategy for extremely AT-biased template. DNA Res, 21 (6), pp. 661-671. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pathogen genome sequencing directly from clinical samples is quickly gaining importance in genetic and medical research studies. However, low DNA yield from blood-borne pathogens is often a limiting factor. The problem worsens in extremely base-biased genomes such as the AT-rich Plasmodium falciparum. We present a strategy for whole-genome amplification (WGA) of low-yield samples from P. falciparum prior to short-read sequencing. We have developed WGA conditions that incorporate tetramethylammonium chloride for improved amplification and coverage of AT-rich regions of the genome. We show that this method reduces amplification bias and chimera formation. Our data show that this method is suitable for as low as 10 pg input DNA, and offers the possibility of sequencing the parasite genome from small blood samples.

Ghansah A, Amenga-Etego L, Amambua-Ngwa A, Andagalu B, Apinjoh T, Bouyou-Akotet M, Cornelius V, Golassa L, Andrianaranjaka VH, Ishengoma D et al. 2014. Monitoring parasite diversity for malaria elimination in sub-Saharan Africa. Science, 345 (6202), pp. 1297-1298. | Show Abstract | Read more

The African continent continues to bear the greatest burden of malaria and the greatest diversity of parasites, mosquito vectors, and human victims. The evolutionary plasticity of malaria parasites and their vectors is a major obstacle to eliminating the disease. Of current concern is the recently reported emergence of resistance to the front-line drug, artemisinin, in South-East Asia in Plasmodium falciparum, which calls for preemptive surveillance of the African parasite population for genetic markers of emerging drug resistance. Here we describe the Plasmodium Diversity Network Africa (PDNA), which has been established across 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to ensure that African scientists are enabled to work together and to play a key role in the global effort for tracking and responding to this public health threat.

Shah SS, Macharia A, Makale J, Uyoga S, Kivinen K, Craik R, Hubbart C, Wellems TE, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Williams TN. 2014. Genetic determinants of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity in Kenya. BMC Med Genet, 15 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The relationship between glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency and clinical phenomena such as primaquine-sensitivity and protection from severe malaria remains poorly defined, with past association studies yielding inconsistent and conflicting results. One possibility is that examination of a single genetic variant might underestimate the presence of true effects in the presence of unrecognized functional allelic diversity. METHODS: We systematically examined this possibility in Kenya, conducting a fine-mapping association study of erythrocyte G6PD activity in 1828 Kenyan children across 30 polymorphisms at or around the G6PD locus. RESULTS: We demonstrate a strong functional role for c.202G>A (rs1050828), which accounts for the majority of variance in enzyme activity observed (P=1.5×10⁻²⁰⁰, additive model). Additionally, we identify other common variants that exert smaller, intercorrelated effects independent of c.202G>A, and haplotype analyses suggest that each variant tags one of two haplotype motifs that are opposite in sequence identity and effect direction. We posit that these effects are of biological and possible clinical significance, specifically noting that c.376A>G (rs1050829) augments 202AG heterozygote risk for deficiency trait by two-fold (OR = 2.11 [1.12 - 3.84], P=0.014). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that c.202G>A is responsible for the majority of the observed prevalence of G6PD deficiency trait in Kenya, but also identify a novel role for c.376A>G as a genetic modifier which marks a common haplotype that augments the risk conferred to 202AG heterozygotes, suggesting that variation at both loci merits consideration in genetic association studies probing G6PD deficiency-associated clinical phenotypes.

Takala-Harrison S, Jacob CG, Arze C, Cummings MP, Silva JC, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Hien TT, Mayxay M, Noedl H et al. 2015. Independent emergence of artemisinin resistance mutations among Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia. J Infect Dis, 211 (5), pp. 670-679. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia threatens malaria treatment efficacy. Mutations in a kelch protein encoded on P. falciparum chromosome 13 (K13) have been associated with resistance in vitro and in field samples from Cambodia. METHODS: P. falciparum infections from artesunate efficacy trials in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam were genotyped at 33 716 genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Linear mixed models were used to test associations between parasite genotypes and parasite clearance half-lives following artesunate treatment. K13 mutations were tested for association with artemisinin resistance, and extended haplotypes on chromosome 13 were examined to determine whether mutations arose focally and spread or whether they emerged independently. RESULTS: The presence of nonreference K13 alleles was associated with prolonged parasite clearance half-life (P = 1.97 × 10(-12)). Parasites with a mutation in any of the K13 kelch domains displayed longer parasite clearance half-lives than parasites with wild-type alleles. Haplotype analysis revealed both population-specific emergence of mutations and independent emergence of the same mutation in different geographic areas. CONCLUSIONS: K13 appears to be a major determinant of artemisinin resistance throughout Southeast Asia. While we found some evidence of spreading resistance, there was no evidence of resistance moving westward from Cambodia into Myanmar.

de Vries J, Williams TN, Bojang K, Kwiatkowski DP, Fitzpatrick R, Parker M. 2014. Knowing who to trust: exploring the role of 'ethical metadata' in mediating risk of harm in collaborative genomics research in Africa. BMC Med Ethics, 15 (1), pp. 62. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The practice of making datasets publicly available for use by the wider scientific community has become firmly integrated in genomic science. One significant gap in literature around data sharing concerns how it impacts on scientists' ability to preserve values and ethical standards that form an essential component of scientific collaborations. We conducted a qualitative sociological study examining the potential for harm to ethnic groups, and implications of such ethical concerns for data sharing. We focused our empirical work on the MalariaGEN Consortium, one of the first international collaborative genomics research projects in Africa. METHODS: We conducted a study in three MalariaGEN project sites in Kenya, the Gambia, and the United Kingdom. The study entailed analysis of project documents and 49 semi-structured interviews with fieldworkers, researchers and ethics committee members. RESULTS: Concerns about how best to address the potential for harm to ethnic groups in MalariaGEN crystallised in discussions about the development of a data sharing policy. Particularly concerning for researchers was how best to manage the sharing of genomic data outside of the original collaboration. Within MalariaGEN, genomic data is accompanied by information about the locations of sample collection, the limitations of consent and ethics approval, and the values and relations that accompanied sample collection. For interviewees, this information and context were of important ethical value in safeguarding against harmful uses of data, but is not customarily shared with secondary data users. This challenged the ability of primary researchers to protect against harmful uses of 'their' data. CONCLUSION: We identified three protective mechanisms--trust, the existence of a shared morality, and detailed contextual understanding--which together might play an important role in preventing the use of genomic data in ways that could harm the ethnic groups included in the study. We suggest that the current practice of sharing of datasets as isolated objects rather than as embedded within a particular scientific culture, without regard for the normative context within which samples were collected, may cause ethical tensions to emerge that could have been prevented or addressed had the 'ethical metadata' that accompanies genomic data also been shared.

Ashley EA, Dhorda M, Fairhurst RM, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Anderson JM, Mao S, Sam B et al. 2014. Spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 411-423. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Southeast Asia and now poses a threat to the control and elimination of malaria. Mapping the geographic extent of resistance is essential for planning containment and elimination strategies. METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2013, we enrolled 1241 adults and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an open-label trial at 15 sites in 10 countries (7 in Asia and 3 in Africa). Patients received artesunate, administered orally at a daily dose of either 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or 4 mg per kilogram, for 3 days, followed by a standard 3-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite counts in peripheral-blood samples were measured every 6 hours, and the parasite clearance half-lives were determined. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance half-lives ranged from 1.9 hours in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 7.0 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. Slowly clearing infections (parasite clearance half-life >5 hours), strongly associated with single point mutations in the "propeller" region of the P. falciparum kelch protein gene on chromosome 13 (kelch13), were detected throughout mainland Southeast Asia from southern Vietnam to central Myanmar. The incidence of pretreatment and post-treatment gametocytemia was higher among patients with slow parasite clearance, suggesting greater potential for transmission. In western Cambodia, where artemisinin-based combination therapies are failing, the 6-day course of antimalarial therapy was associated with a cure rate of 97.7% (95% confidence interval, 90.9 to 99.4) at 42 days. CONCLUSIONS: Artemisinin resistance to P. falciparum, which is now prevalent across mainland Southeast Asia, is associated with mutations in kelch13. Prolonged courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies are currently efficacious in areas where standard 3-day treatments are failing. (Funded by the U.K. Department of International Development and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01350856.).

Ocholla H, Preston MD, Mipando M, Jensen AT, Campino S, MacInnis B, Alcock D, Terlouw A, Zongo I, Oudraogo JB et al. 2014. Whole-genome scans provide evidence of adaptive evolution in Malawian Plasmodium falciparum isolates. J Infect Dis, 210 (12), pp. 1991-2000. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Selection by host immunity and antimalarial drugs has driven extensive adaptive evolution in Plasmodium falciparum and continues to produce ever-changing landscapes of genetic variation. METHODS: We performed whole-genome sequencing of 69 P. falciparum isolates from Malawi and used population genetics approaches to investigate genetic diversity and population structure and identify loci under selection. RESULTS: High genetic diversity (π = 2.4 × 10(-4)), moderately high multiplicity of infection (2.7), and low linkage disequilibrium (500-bp) were observed in Chikhwawa District, Malawi, an area of high malaria transmission. Allele frequency-based tests provided evidence of recent population growth in Malawi and detected potential targets of host immunity and candidate vaccine antigens. Comparison of the sequence variation between isolates from Malawi and those from 5 geographically dispersed countries (Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cambodia, and Thailand) detected population genetic differences between Africa and Asia, within Southeast Asia, and within Africa. Haplotype-based tests of selection to sequence data from all 6 populations identified signals of directional selection at known drug-resistance loci, including pfcrt, pfdhps, pfmdr1, and pfgch1. CONCLUSIONS: The sequence variations observed at drug-resistance loci reflect differences in each country's historical use of antimalarial drugs and may be useful in formulating local malaria treatment guidelines.

Apinjoh TO, Anchang-Kimbi JK, Njua-Yafi C, Ngwai AN, Mugri RN, Clark TG, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Achidi EA, MalariaGEN Consortium. 2014. Association of candidate gene polymorphisms and TGF-beta/IL-10 levels with malaria in three regions of Cameroon: a case-control study. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 236. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria is one of the most widespread and deadliest infectious diseases in children under five years in endemic areas. The disease has been a strong force for evolutionary selection in the human genome, and uncovering the critical host genetic factors that confer resistance to the disease would provide clues to the molecular basis of protective immunity and improve vaccine development initiatives. METHODS: The effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and plasma transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and interleukin 10 (IL-10) levels on malaria pathology was investigated in a case-control study of 1862 individuals from two major ethnic groups in three regions with intense perennial P. falciparum transmission in Cameroon. Thirty-four malaria candidate polymorphisms, including the sickle cell trait (HbS), were assayed on the Sequenom iPLEX platform while plasma TGF-β and IL-10 levels were measured by sandwich ELISA. RESULTS: The study confirms the known protective effect of HbS against severe malaria and also reveals a protective effect of SNPs in the nitrogen oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) gene against malaria infection, anaemia and uncomplicated malaria. Furthermore, ADCY9 rs10775349 (additive G) and ABO rs8176746 AC individuals were associated with protection from hyperpyrexia and hyperparasitaemia, respectively. Meanwhile, individuals with the EMR1 rs373533 GT, EMR1 rs461645 CT and RTN3 rs542998 (additive C) genotypes were more susceptible to hyperpyrexia while both females and males with the rs1050828 and rs1050829 SNPs of G6PD, respectively, were more vulnerable to anaemia. Plasma TGF-β levels were strongly correlated with heterozygosity for the ADCY9 rs2230739 and HBB rs334 SNPs while individuals with the ABO rs8176746 AC genotype had lower IL-10 levels. CONCLUSION: Taken together, this study suggests that some rare polymorphisms in candidate genes may have important implications for the susceptibility of Cameroonians to severe malaria. Moreover using the uncomplicated malaria phenotype may permit the identification of novel pathways in the early development of the disease.

Karlsson EK, Kwiatkowski DP, Sabeti PC. 2014. Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations. Nat Rev Genet, 15 (6), pp. 379-393. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ancient biological 'arms race' between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders. Using new high-throughput technologies, analytical methods and expanding public data resources, the investigation of natural selection is leading to new insights into the function and dysfunction of human biology.

Nwakanma DC, Duffy CW, Amambua-Ngwa A, Oriero EC, Bojang KA, Pinder M, Drakeley CJ, Sutherland CJ, Milligan PJ, Macinnis B et al. 2014. Changes in malaria parasite drug resistance in an endemic population over a 25-year period with resulting genomic evidence of selection. J Infect Dis, 209 (7), pp. 1126-1135. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND:  Analysis of genome-wide polymorphism in many organisms has potential to identify genes under recent selection. However, data on historical allele frequency changes are rarely available for direct confirmation. METHODS:  We genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 4 Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance genes in 668 archived parasite-positive blood samples of a Gambian population between 1984 and 2008. This covered a period before antimalarial resistance was detected locally, through subsequent failure of multiple drugs until introduction of artemisinin combination therapy. We separately performed genome-wide sequence analysis of 52 clinical isolates from 2008 to prospect for loci under recent directional selection. RESULTS:  Resistance alleles increased from very low frequencies, peaking in 2000 for chloroquine resistance-associated crt and mdr1 genes and at the end of the survey period for dhfr and dhps genes respectively associated with pyrimethamine and sulfadoxine resistance. Temporal changes fit a model incorporating likely selection coefficients over the period. Three of the drug resistance loci were in the top 4 regions under strong selection implicated by the genome-wide analysis. CONCLUSIONS:  Genome-wide polymorphism analysis of an endemic population sample robustly identifies loci with detailed documentation of recent selection, demonstrating power to prospectively detect emerging drug resistance genes.

Mobegi VA, Duffy CW, Amambua-Ngwa A, Loua KM, Laman E, Nwakanma DC, MacInnis B, Aspeling-Jones H, Murray L, Clark TG et al. 2014. Genome-wide analysis of selection on the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in West African populations of differing infection endemicity. Mol Biol Evol, 31 (6), pp. 1490-1499. | Show Abstract | Read more

Locally varying selection on pathogens may be due to differences in drug pressure, host immunity, transmission opportunities between hosts, or the intensity of between-genotype competition within hosts. Highly recombining populations of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum throughout West Africa are closely related, as gene flow is relatively unrestricted in this endemic region, but markedly varying ecology and transmission intensity should cause distinct local selective pressures. Genome-wide analysis of sequence variation was undertaken on a sample of 100 P. falciparum clinical isolates from a highly endemic region of the Republic of Guinea where transmission occurs for most of each year and compared with data from 52 clinical isolates from a previously sampled population from The Gambia, where there is relatively limited seasonal malaria transmission. Paired-end short-read sequences were mapped against the 3D7 P. falciparum reference genome sequence, and data on 136,144 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were obtained. Within-population analyses identifying loci showing evidence of recent positive directional selection and balancing selection confirm that antimalarial drugs and host immunity have been major selective agents. Many of the signatures of recent directional selection reflected by standardized integrated haplotype scores were population specific, including differences at drug resistance loci due to historically different antimalarial use between the countries. In contrast, both populations showed a similar set of loci likely to be under balancing selection as indicated by very high Tajima's D values, including a significant overrepresentation of genes expressed at the merozoite stage that invades erythrocytes and several previously validated targets of acquired immunity. Between-population FST analysis identified exceptional differentiation of allele frequencies at a small number of loci, most markedly for five SNPs covering a 15-kb region within and flanking the gdv1 gene that regulates the early stages of gametocyte development, which is likely related to the extreme differences in mosquito vector abundance and seasonality that determine the transmission opportunities for the sexual stage of the parasite.

Kafsack BF, Rovira-Graells N, Clark TG, Bancells C, Crowley VM, Campino SG, Williams AE, Drought LG, Kwiatkowski DP, Baker DA et al. 2014. A transcriptional switch underlies commitment to sexual development in malaria parasites. Nature, 507 (7491), pp. 248-252. | Show Abstract | Read more

The life cycles of many parasites involve transitions between disparate host species, requiring these parasites to go through multiple developmental stages adapted to each of these specialized niches. Transmission of malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.) from humans to the mosquito vector requires differentiation from asexual stages replicating within red blood cells into non-dividing male and female gametocytes. Although gametocytes were first described in 1880, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in commitment to gametocyte formation is extremely limited, and disrupting this critical developmental transition remains a long-standing goal. Here we show that expression levels of the DNA-binding protein PfAP2-G correlate strongly with levels of gametocyte formation. Using independent forward and reverse genetics approaches, we demonstrate that PfAP2-G function is essential for parasite sexual differentiation. By combining genome-wide PfAP2-G cognate motif occurrence with global transcriptional changes resulting from PfAP2-G ablation, we identify early gametocyte genes as probable targets of PfAP2-G and show that their regulation by PfAP2-G is critical for their wild-type level expression. In the asexual blood-stage parasites pfap2-g appears to be among a set of epigenetically silenced loci prone to spontaneous activation. Stochastic activation presents a simple mechanism for a low baseline of gametocyte production. Overall, these findings identify PfAP2-G as a master regulator of sexual-stage development in malaria parasites and mark the first discovery of a transcriptional switch controlling a differentiation decision in protozoan parasites.

Atkinson SH, Uyoga SM, Nyatichi E, Macharia AW, Nyutu G, Ndila C, Kwiatkowski DP, Rockett KA, Williams TN. 2014. Epistasis between the haptoglobin common variant and α+thalassemia influences risk of severe malaria in Kenyan children. Blood, 123 (13), pp. 2008-2016. | Show Abstract | Read more

Haptoglobin (Hp) scavenges free hemoglobin following malaria-induced hemolysis. Few studies have investigated the relationship between the common Hp variants and the risk of severe malaria, and their results are inconclusive. We conducted a case-control study of 996 children with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria and 1220 community controls and genotyped for Hp, hemoglobin (Hb) S heterozygotes, and α(+)thalassemia. Hb S heterozygotes and α(+)thalassemia homozygotes were protected from severe malaria (odds ratio [OR], 0.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.07-0.18 and OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.53-0.91, respectively). The risk of severe malaria also varied by Hp genotype: Hp2-1 was associated with the greatest protection against severe malaria and Hp2-2 with the greatest risk. Meta-analysis of the current and published studies suggests that Hp2-2 is associated with increased risk of severe malaria compared with Hp2-1. We found a significant interaction between Hp genotype and α(+)thalassemia in predicting risk of severe malaria: Hp2-1 in combination with heterozygous or homozygous α(+)thalassemia was associated with protection from severe malaria (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54-0.99 and OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.32-0.73, respectively), but α(+)thalassemia in combination with Hp2-2 was not protective. This epistatic interaction together with varying frequencies of α(+)thalassemia across Africa may explain the inconsistent relationship between Hp genotype and malaria reported in previous studies.

Wendler JP, Okombo J, Amato R, Miotto O, Kiara SM, Mwai L, Pole L, O'Brien J, Manske M, Alcock D et al. 2014. A genome wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility to 22 antimalarial drugs in Kenya. PLoS One, 9 (5), pp. e96486. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Drug resistance remains a chief concern for malaria control. In order to determine the genetic markers of drug resistant parasites, we tested the genome-wide associations (GWA) of sequence-based genotypes from 35 Kenyan P. falciparum parasites with the activities of 22 antimalarial drugs. METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Parasites isolated from children with acute febrile malaria were adapted to culture, and sensitivity was determined by in vitro growth in the presence of anti-malarial drugs. Parasites were genotyped using whole genome sequencing techniques. Associations between 6250 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and resistance to individual anti-malarial agents were determined, with false discovery rate adjustment for multiple hypothesis testing. We identified expected associations in the pfcrt region with chloroquine (CQ) activity, and other novel loci associated with amodiaquine, quinazoline, and quinine activities. Signals for CQ and primaquine (PQ) overlap in and around pfcrt, and interestingly the phenotypes are inversely related for these two drugs. We catalog the variation in dhfr, dhps, mdr1, nhe, and crt, including novel SNPs, and confirm the presence of a dhfr-164L quadruple mutant in coastal Kenya. Mutations implicated in sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance are at or near fixation in this sample set. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Sequence-based GWA studies are powerful tools for phenotypic association tests. Using this approach on falciparum parasites from coastal Kenya we identified known and previously unreported genes associated with phenotypic resistance to anti-malarial drugs, and observe in high-resolution haplotype visualizations a possible signature of an inverse selective relationship between CQ and PQ.

Apinjoh TO, Anchang-Kimbi JK, Njua-Yafi C, Mugri RN, Ngwai AN, Rockett KA, Mbunwe E, Besingi RN, Clark TG, Kwiatkowski DP et al. 2013. Association of cytokine and Toll-like receptor gene polymorphisms with severe malaria in three regions of Cameroon. PLoS One, 8 (11), pp. e81071. | Show Abstract | Read more

P. falciparum malaria is one of the most widespread and deadliest infectious diseases in children under five years in endemic areas. The disease has been a strong force for evolutionary selection in the human genome, and uncovering the critical human genetic factors that confer resistance to the disease would provide clues to the molecular basis of protective immunity that would be invaluable for vaccine development. We investigated the effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on malaria pathology in a case- control study of 1862 individuals from two major ethnic groups in three regions with intense perennial P. falciparum transmission in Cameroon. Twenty nine polymorphisms in cytokine and toll-like receptor (TLR) genes as well as the sickle cell trait (HbS) were assayed on the Sequenom iPLEX platform. Our results confirm the known protective effect of HbS against severe malaria and also reveal a protective effect of SNPs in interleukin-10 (IL10) cerebral malaria and hyperpyrexia. Furthermore, IL17RE rs708567 GA and hHbS rs334 AT individuals were associated with protection from uncomplicated malaria and anaemia respectively in this study. Meanwhile, individuals with the hHbS rs334 TT, IL10 rs3024500 AA, and IL17RD rs6780995 GA genotypes were more susceptible to severe malarial anaemia, cerebral malaria, and hyperpyrexia respectively. Taken together, our results suggest that polymorphisms in some immune response genes may have important implications for the susceptibility to severe malaria in Cameroonians. Moreover using uncomplicated malaria may allow us to identify novel pathways in the early development of the disease.

Band G, Le QS, Jostins L, Pirinen M, Kivinen K, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Bojang K, Pinder M, Sirugo G et al. 2013. Imputation-based meta-analysis of severe malaria in three African populations. PLoS Genet, 9 (5), pp. e1003509. | Show Abstract | Read more

Combining data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) conducted at different locations, using genotype imputation and fixed-effects meta-analysis, has been a powerful approach for dissecting complex disease genetics in populations of European ancestry. Here we investigate the feasibility of applying the same approach in Africa, where genetic diversity, both within and between populations, is far more extensive. We analyse genome-wide data from approximately 5,000 individuals with severe malaria and 7,000 population controls from three different locations in Africa. Our results show that the standard approach is well powered to detect known malaria susceptibility loci when sample sizes are large, and that modern methods for association analysis can control the potential confounding effects of population structure. We show that pattern of association around the haemoglobin S allele differs substantially across populations due to differences in haplotype structure. Motivated by these observations we consider new approaches to association analysis that might prove valuable for multicentre GWAS in Africa: we relax the assumptions of SNP-based fixed effect analysis; we apply Bayesian approaches to allow for heterogeneity in the effect of an allele on risk across studies; and we introduce a region-based test to allow for heterogeneity in the location of causal alleles.

Miotto O, Almagro-Garcia J, Manske M, Macinnis B, Campino S, Rockett KA, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S et al. 2013. Multiple populations of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia. Nat Genet, 45 (6), pp. 648-655. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe an analysis of genome variation in 825 P. falciparum samples from Asia and Africa that identifies an unusual pattern of parasite population structure at the epicenter of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia. Within this relatively small geographic area, we have discovered several distinct but apparently sympatric parasite subpopulations with extremely high levels of genetic differentiation. Of particular interest are three subpopulations, all associated with clinical resistance to artemisinin, which have skewed allele frequency spectra and high levels of haplotype homozygosity, indicative of founder effects and recent population expansion. We provide a catalog of SNPs that show high levels of differentiation in the artemisinin-resistant subpopulations, including codon variants in transporter proteins and DNA mismatch repair proteins. These data provide a population-level genetic framework for investigating the biological origins of artemisinin resistance and for defining molecular markers to assist in its elimination.

Borrmann S, Straimer J, Mwai L, Abdi A, Rippert A, Okombo J, Muriithi S, Sasi P, Kortok MM, Lowe B et al. 2013. Genome-wide screen identifies new candidate genes associated with artemisinin susceptibility in Plasmodium falciparum in Kenya. Sci Rep, 3 pp. 3318. | Show Abstract | Read more

Early identification of causal genetic variants underlying antimalarial drug resistance could provide robust epidemiological tools for timely public health interventions. Using a novel natural genetics strategy for mapping novel candidate genes we analyzed >75,000 high quality single nucleotide polymorphisms selected from high-resolution whole-genome sequencing data in 27 isolates of Plasmodium falciparum. We identified genetic variants associated with susceptibility to dihydroartemisinin that implicate one region on chromosome 13, a candidate gene on chromosome 1 (PFA0220w, a UBP1 ortholog) and others (PFB0560w, PFB0630c, PFF0445w) with putative roles in protein homeostasis and stress response. There was a strong signal for positive selection on PFA0220w, but not the other candidate loci. Our results demonstrate the power of full-genome sequencing-based association studies for uncovering candidate genes that determine parasite sensitivity to artemisinins. Our study provides a unique reference for the interpretation of results from resistant infections.

Liu X, Ong RT, Pillai EN, Elzein AM, Small KS, Clark TG, Kwiatkowski DP, Teo YY. 2013. Detecting and characterizing genomic signatures of positive selection in global populations. Am J Hum Genet, 92 (6), pp. 866-881. | Show Abstract | Read more

Natural selection is a significant force that shapes the architecture of the human genome and introduces diversity across global populations. The question of whether advantageous mutations have arisen in the human genome as a result of single or multiple mutation events remains unanswered except for the fact that there exist a handful of genes such as those that confer lactase persistence, affect skin pigmentation, or cause sickle cell anemia. We have developed a long-range-haplotype method for identifying genomic signatures of positive selection to complement existing methods, such as the integrated haplotype score (iHS) or cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity (XP-EHH), for locating signals across the entire allele frequency spectrum. Our method also locates the founder haplotypes that carry the advantageous variants and infers their corresponding population frequencies. This presents an opportunity to systematically interrogate the whole human genome whether a selection signal shared across different populations is the consequence of a single mutation process followed subsequently by gene flow between populations or of convergent evolution due to the occurrence of multiple independent mutation events either at the same variant or within the same gene. The application of our method to data from 14 populations across the world revealed that positive-selection events tend to cluster in populations of the same ancestry. Comparing the founder haplotypes for events that are present across different populations revealed that convergent evolution is a rare occurrence and that the majority of shared signals stem from the same evolutionary event.

Bustamante LY, Bartholdson SJ, Crosnier C, Campos MG, Wanaguru M, Nguon C, Kwiatkowski DP, Wright GJ, Rayner JC. 2013. A full-length recombinant Plasmodium falciparum PfRH5 protein induces inhibitory antibodies that are effective across common PfRH5 genetic variants Vaccine, 31 (2), pp. 373-379. | Read more

Auburn S, Marfurt J, Maslen G, Campino S, Ruano Rubio V, Manske M, Machunter B, Kenangalem E, Noviyanti R, Trianty L et al. 2013. Effective preparation of Plasmodium vivax field isolates for high-throughput whole genome sequencing. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e53160. | Show Abstract | Read more

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Plasmodium vivax is problematic due to the reliance on clinical isolates which are generally low in parasitaemia and sample volume. Furthermore, clinical isolates contain a significant contaminating background of host DNA which confounds efforts to map short read sequence of the target P. vivax DNA. Here, we discuss a methodology to significantly improve the success of P. vivax WGS on natural (non-adapted) patient isolates. Using 37 patient isolates from Indonesia, Thailand, and travellers, we assessed the application of CF11-based white blood cell filtration alone and in combination with short term ex vivo schizont maturation. Although CF11 filtration reduced human DNA contamination in 8 Indonesian isolates tested, additional short-term culture increased the P. vivax DNA yield from a median of 0.15 to 6.2 ng µl(-1) packed red blood cells (pRBCs) (p = 0.001) and reduced the human DNA percentage from a median of 33.9% to 6.22% (p = 0.008). Furthermore, post-CF11 and culture samples from Thailand gave a median P. vivax DNA yield of 2.34 ng µl(-1) pRBCs, and 2.65% human DNA. In 22 P. vivax patient isolates prepared with the 2-step method, we demonstrate high depth (median 654X coverage) and breadth (≥89%) of coverage on the Illumina GAII and HiSeq platforms. In contrast to the A+T-rich P. falciparum genome, negligible bias was observed in coverage depth between coding and non-coding regions of the P. vivax genome. This uniform coverage will greatly facilitate the detection of SNPs and copy number variants across the genome, enabling unbiased exploration of the natural diversity in P. vivax populations.

Takala-Harrison S, Clark TG, Jacob CG, Cummings MP, Miotto O, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Nosten F, Noedl H, Imwong M et al. 2013. Genetic loci associated with delayed clearance of Plasmodium falciparum following artemisinin treatment in Southeast Asia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110 (1), pp. 240-245. | Show Abstract | Read more

The recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Cambodia could threaten prospects for malaria elimination. Identification of the genetic basis of resistance would provide tools for molecular surveillance, aiding efforts to contain resistance. Clinical trials of artesunate efficacy were conducted in Bangladesh, in northwestern Thailand near the Myanmar border, and at two sites in western Cambodia. Parasites collected from trial participants were genotyped at 8,079 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using a P. falciparum-specific SNP array. Parasite genotypes were examined for signatures of recent positive selection and association with parasite clearance phenotypes to identify regions of the genome associated with artemisinin resistance. Four SNPs on chromosomes 10 (one), 13 (two), and 14 (one) were significantly associated with delayed parasite clearance. The two SNPs on chromosome 13 are in a region of the genome that appears to be under strong recent positive selection in Cambodia. The SNPs on chromosomes 10 and 13 lie in or near genes involved in postreplication repair, a DNA damage-tolerance pathway. Replication and validation studies are needed to refine the location of loci responsible for artemisinin resistance and to understand the mechanism behind it; however, two SNPs on chromosomes 10 and 13 may be useful markers of delayed parasite clearance in surveillance for artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia.

Oyola SO, Gu Y, Manske M, Otto TD, O'Brien J, Alcock D, Macinnis B, Berriman M, Newbold CI, Kwiatkowski DP et al. 2013. Efficient depletion of host DNA contamination in malaria clinical sequencing. J Clin Microbiol, 51 (3), pp. 745-751. | Show Abstract | Read more

The cost of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is decreasing rapidly as next-generation sequencing technology continues to advance, and the prospect of making WGS available for public health applications is becoming a reality. So far, a number of studies have demonstrated the use of WGS as an epidemiological tool for typing and controlling outbreaks of microbial pathogens. Success of these applications is hugely dependent on efficient generation of clean genetic material that is free from host DNA contamination for rapid preparation of sequencing libraries. The presence of large amounts of host DNA severely affects the efficiency of characterizing pathogens using WGS and is therefore a serious impediment to clinical and epidemiological sequencing for health care and public health applications. We have developed a simple enzymatic treatment method that takes advantage of the methylation of human DNA to selectively deplete host contamination from clinical samples prior to sequencing. Using malaria clinical samples with over 80% human host DNA contamination, we show that the enzymatic treatment enriches Plasmodium falciparum DNA up to ∼9-fold and generates high-quality, nonbiased sequence reads covering >98% of 86,158 catalogued typeable single-nucleotide polymorphism loci.

Williams AR, Douglas AD, Miura K, Illingworth JJ, Choudhary P, Murungi LM, Furze JM, Diouf A, Miotto O, Crosnier C et al. 2012. Enhancing blockade of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion: assessing combinations of antibodies against PfRH5 and other merozoite antigens. PLoS Pathog, 8 (11), pp. e1002991. | Show Abstract | Read more

No vaccine has yet proven effective against the blood-stages of Plasmodium falciparum, which cause the symptoms and severe manifestations of malaria. We recently found that PfRH5, a P. falciparum-specific protein expressed in merozoites, is efficiently targeted by broadly-neutralizing, vaccine-induced antibodies. Here we show that antibodies against PfRH5 efficiently inhibit the in vitro growth of short-term-adapted parasite isolates from Cambodia, and that the EC(50) values of antigen-specific antibodies against PfRH5 are lower than those against PfAMA1. Since antibody responses elicited by multiple antigens are speculated to improve the efficacy of blood-stage vaccines, we conducted detailed assessments of parasite growth inhibition by antibodies against PfRH5 in combination with antibodies against seven other merozoite antigens. We found that antibodies against PfRH5 act synergistically with antibodies against certain other merozoite antigens, most notably with antibodies against other erythrocyte-binding antigens such as PfRH4, to inhibit the growth of a homologous P. falciparum clone. A combination of antibodies against PfRH4 and basigin, the erythrocyte receptor for PfRH5, also potently inhibited parasite growth. This methodology provides the first quantitative evidence that polyclonal vaccine-induced antibodies can act synergistically against P. falciparum antigens and should help to guide the rational development of future multi-antigen vaccines.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Maller JB, McVean G, Byrnes J, Vukcevic D, Palin K, Su Z, Howson JM, Auton A, Myers S et al. 2012. Bayesian refinement of association signals for 14 loci in 3 common diseases. Nat Genet, 44 (12), pp. 1294-1301. | Show Abstract | Read more

To further investigate susceptibility loci identified by genome-wide association studies, we genotyped 5,500 SNPs across 14 associated regions in 8,000 samples from a control group and 3 diseases: type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease (CAD) and Graves' disease. We defined, using Bayes theorem, credible sets of SNPs that were 95% likely, based on posterior probability, to contain the causal disease-associated SNPs. In 3 of the 14 regions, TCF7L2 (T2D), CTLA4 (Graves' disease) and CDKN2A-CDKN2B (T2D), much of the posterior probability rested on a single SNP, and, in 4 other regions (CDKN2A-CDKN2B (CAD) and CDKAL1, FTO and HHEX (T2D)), the 95% sets were small, thereby excluding most SNPs as potentially causal. Very few SNPs in our credible sets had annotated functions, illustrating the limitations in understanding the mechanisms underlying susceptibility to common diseases. Our results also show the value of more detailed mapping to target sequences for functional studies.

Cited:

152

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Manske M, Miotto O, Campino S, Auburn S, Almagro-Garcia J, Maslen G, O'Brien J, Djimde A, Doumbo O, Zongo I et al. 2012. Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections by deep sequencing Nature, 487 (7407), pp. 375-379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P.falciparum genome. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

de Vries J, Jallow M, Williams TN, Kwiatkowski D, Parker M, Fitzpatrick R. 2012. Investigating the potential for ethnic group harm in collaborative genomics research in Africa: is ethnic stigmatisation likely? Soc Sci Med, 75 (8), pp. 1400-1407. | Show Abstract | Read more

A common assumption in genomics research is that the use of ethnic categories has the potential to lead to ethnic stigmatisation - particularly when the research is done on minority populations. Yet few empirical studies have sought to investigate the relation between genomics and stigma, and fewer still with a focus on Africa. In this paper, we investigate the potential for genomics research to lead to harms to ethnic groups. We carried out 49 semi-structured, open-ended interviews with stakeholders in a current medical genomics research project in Africa, MalariaGEN. Interviews were conducted with MalariaGEN researchers, fieldworkers, members of three ethics committees who reviewed MalariaGEN project proposals, and with members of the two funding bodies providing support to the MalariaGEN project. Interviews were conducted in Kenya, The Gambia and the UK between June 2008 and October 2009. They covered a range of aspects relating to the use of ethnicity in the genomics project, including views on adverse effects of the inclusion of ethnicity in such research. Drawing on the empirical data, we argue that the risk of harm to ethnic groups is likely to be more acute in specific types of genomics research. We develop a typology of research questions and projects that carry a greater risk of harm to the populations included in genomics research. We conclude that the potential of generating harm to ethnic groups in genomics research is present if research includes populations that are already stigmatised or discriminated against, or where the research investigates questions with particular normative implications. We identify a clear need for genomics researchers to take account of the social context of the work they are proposing to do, including understanding the local realities and relations between ethnic groups, and whether diseases are already stigmatised.

Dunstan SJ, Rockett KA, Quyen NT, Teo YY, Thai CQ, Hang NT, Jeffreys A, Clark TG, Small KS, Simmons CP et al. 2012. Variation in human genes encoding adhesion and proinflammatory molecules are associated with severe malaria in the Vietnamese. Genes Immun, 13 (6), pp. 503-508. | Show Abstract | Read more

The genetic basis for susceptibility to malaria has been studied widely in African populations but less is known of the contribution of specific genetic variants in Asian populations. We genotyped 67 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1030 severe malaria cases and 2840 controls from Vietnam. After data quality control, genotyping data of 956 cases and 2350 controls were analysed for 65 SNPs (3 gender confirmation, 62 positioned in/near 42 malarial candidate genes). A total of 14 SNPs were monomorphic and 2 (rs8078340 and rs33950507) were not in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in controls (P<0.01). In all, 7/46 SNPs in 6 genes (ICAM1, IL1A, IL17RC, IL13, LTA and TNF) were associated with severe malaria, with 3/7 SNPs in the TNF/LTA region. Genotype-phenotype correlations between SNPs and clinical parameters revealed that genotypes of rs708567 (IL17RC) correlate with parasitemia (P=0.028, r(2)=0.0086), with GG homozygotes having the lowest parasite burden. Additionally, rs708567 GG homozygotes had a decreased risk of severe malaria (P=0.007, OR=0.78 (95% CI; 0.65-0.93)) and death (P=0.028, OR=0.58 (95% CI; 0.37-0.93)) than those with AA and AG genotypes. In summary, variants in six genes encoding adhesion and proinflammatory molecules are associated with severe malaria in the Vietnamese. Further replicative studies in independent populations will be necessary to confirm these findings.

Manske M, Miotto O, Campino S, Auburn S, Almagro-Garcia J, Maslen G, O'Brien J, Djimde A, Doumbo O, Zongo I et al. 2012. Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections by deep sequencing. Nature, 487 (7407), pp. 375-379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P. falciparum genome.

da Silva Santos S, Clark TG, Campino S, Suarez-Mutis MC, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Fernandes O. 2012. Investigation of host candidate malaria-associated risk/protective SNPs in a Brazilian Amazonian population. PLoS One, 7 (5), pp. e36692. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Brazilian Amazon is a hypo-endemic malaria region with nearly 300,000 cases each year. A variety of genetic polymorphisms, particularly in erythrocyte receptors and immune response related genes, have been described to be associated with susceptibility and resistance to malaria. In order to identify polymorphisms that might be associated with malaria clinical outcomes in a Brazilian Amazonian population, sixty-four human single nucleotide polymorphisms in 37 genes were analyzed using a Sequenom massARRAY iPLEX platform. A total of 648 individuals from two malaria endemic areas were studied, including 535 malaria cases (113 individuals with clinical mild malaria, 122 individuals with asymptomatic infection and 300 individuals with history of previous mild malaria) and 113 health controls with no history of malaria. The data revealed significant associations (p<0.003) between one SNP in the IL10 gene (rs1800896) and one SNP in the TLR4 gene (rs4986790) with reduced risk for clinical malaria, one SNP in the IRF1 gene (rs2706384) with increased risk for clinical malaria, one SNP in the LTA gene (rs909253) with protection from clinical malaria and one SNP in the TNF gene (RS1800750) associated with susceptibility to clinical malaria. Also, a new association was found between a SNP in the CTL4 gene (rs2242665), located at the major histocompatibility complex III region, and reduced risk for clinical malaria. This study represents the first association study from an Amazonian population involving a large number of host genetic polymorphisms with susceptibility or resistance to Plasmodium infection and malaria outcomes. Further studies should include a larger number of individuals, refined parameters and a fine-scale map obtained through DNA sequencing to increase the knowledge of the Amazonian population genetic diversity.

Ghansah A, Rockett KA, Clark TG, Wilson MD, Koram KA, Oduro AR, Amenga-Etego L, Anyorigiya T, Hodgson A, Milligan P et al. 2012. Haplotype analyses of haemoglobin C and haemoglobin S and the dynamics of the evolutionary response to malaria in Kassena-Nankana District of Ghana. PLoS One, 7 (4), pp. e34565. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Haemoglobin S (HbS) and C (HbC) are variants of the HBB gene which both protect against malaria. It is not clear, however, how these two alleles have evolved in the West African countries where they co-exist at high frequencies. Here we use haplotypic signatures of selection to investigate the evolutionary history of the malaria-protective alleles HbS and HbC in the Kassena-Nankana District (KND) of Ghana. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The haplotypic structure of HbS and HbC alleles was investigated, by genotyping 56 SNPs around the HBB locus. We found that, in the KND population, both alleles reside on extended haplotypes (approximately 1.5 Mb for HbS and 650 Kb for HbC) that are significantly less diverse than those of the ancestral HbA allele. The extended haplotypes span a recombination hotspot that is known to exist in this region of the genome SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings show strong support for recent positive selection of both the HbS and HbC alleles and provide insights into how these two alleles have both evolved in the population of northern Ghana.

Shah SS, Diakite SA, Traore K, Diakite M, Kwiatkowski DP, Rockett KA, Wellems TE, Fairhurst RM. 2012. A novel cytofluorometric assay for the detection and quantification of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Sci Rep, 2 pp. 299. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an X-linked enzymopathy that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, conferring increased risk of neonatal jaundice and oxidant-induced hemolytic anemia. Screening and diagnosis of G6PD deficiency is currently performed using genetic or biochemical assays, the former being cost ineffective in populations with significant allelic heterogeneity, and the latter being limited in ability to detect female heterozygotes. Cytochemical assays can obviate these shortcomings, but at the expense of added technical complexity and labor. We describe here a simple, novel cytofluorometric method that extends the classic methemoglobin reduction test, assessing G6PD deficiency at the level of an individual erythrocyte. In preliminary testing in Malian children, there was strong concordance between our method and established genetic and biochemical techniques. The assay is robust and economical, and could serve as a screening method as well as a research tool, especially for high-throughput applications such as flow cytometry.

Smith M, Campino S, Gu Y, Clark TG, Otto TD, Maslen G, Manske M, Imwong M, Dondorp AM, Kwiatkowski DP et al. 2012. An In-Solution Hybridisation Method for the Isolation of Pathogen DNA from Human DNA-rich Clinical Samples for Analysis by NGS. Open Genomics J, 5 (1), pp. 18-29. | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies on DNA from pathogenic organisms, within clinical samples, are often complicated by the presence of large amounts of host, e.g., human DNA. Isolation of pathogen DNA from these samples would improve the efficiency of next-generation sequencing (NGS) and pathogen identification. Here we describe a solution-based hybridisation method for isolation of pathogen DNA from a mixed population. This straightforward and inexpensive technique uses probes made from whole-genome DNA and off-the-shelf reagents. In this study, Escherichia coli DNA was successfully enriched from a mixture of E.coli and human DNA. After enrichment, genome coverage following NGS was significantly higher and the evenness of coverage and GC content were unaffected. This technique was also applied to samples containing a mixture of human and Plasmodium falciparum DNA. The P.falciparum genome is particularly difficult to sequence due to its high AT content (80.6%) and repetitive nature. Post enrichment, a bias in the recovered DNA was observed, with a poorer representation of the AT-rich non-coding regions. This uneven coverage was also observed in pre-enrichment samples, but to a lesser degree. Despite the coverage bias in enriched samples, SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) calling in coding regions was unaffected and the majority of samples had over 90% of their coding region covered at 5× depth. This technique shows significant promise as an effective method to enrich pathogen DNA from samples with heavy human contamination, particularly when applied to GC-neutral genomes.

Cited:

88

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Maller JB, McVean G, Byrnes J, Vukcevic D, Palin K, Su Z, Howson JMM, Auton A, Myers S, Morris A et al. 2012. Bayesian refinement of association signals for 14 loci in 3 common diseases Nature Genetics, 44 (12), pp. 1294-1301. | Show Abstract | Read more

To further investigate susceptibility loci identified by genome-wide association studies, we genotyped 5,500 SNPs across 14 associated regions in 8,000 samples from a control group and 3 diseases: type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease (CAD) and Graves' disease. We defined, using Bayes theorem, credible sets of SNPs that were 95% likely, based on posterior probability, to contain the causal disease-associated SNPs. In 3 of the 14 regions, TCF7L2 (T2D), CTLA4 (Graves' disease) and CDKN2A-CDKN2B (T2D), much of the posterior probability rested on a single SNP, and, in 4 other regions (CDKN2A-CDKN2B (CAD) and CDKAL1, FTO and HHEX (T2D)), the 95% sets were small, thereby excluding most SNPs as potentially causal. Very few SNPs in our credible sets had annotated functions, illustrating the limitations in understanding the mechanisms underlying susceptibility to common diseases. Our results also show the value of more detailed mapping to target sequences for functional studies. © 2012 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Auburn S, Campino S, Miotto O, Djimde AA, Zongo I, Manske M, Maslen G, Mangano V, Alcock D, MacInnis B et al. 2012. Characterization of within-host Plasmodium falciparum diversity using next-generation sequence data. PLoS One, 7 (2), pp. e32891. | Show Abstract | Read more

Our understanding of the composition of multi-clonal malarial infections and the epidemiological factors which shape their diversity remain poorly understood. Traditionally within-host diversity has been defined in terms of the multiplicity of infection (MOI) derived by PCR-based genotyping. Massively parallel, single molecule sequencing technologies now enable individual read counts to be derived on genome-wide datasets facilitating the development of new statistical approaches to describe within-host diversity. In this class of measures the F(WS) metric characterizes within-host diversity and its relationship to population level diversity. Utilizing P. falciparum field isolates from patients in West Africa we here explore the relationship between the traditional MOI and F(WS) approaches. F(WS) statistics were derived from read count data at 86,158 SNPs in 64 samples sequenced on the Illumina GA platform. MOI estimates were derived by PCR at the msp-1 and -2 loci. Significant correlations were observed between the two measures, particularly with the msp-1 locus (P = 5.92×10(-5)). The F(WS) metric should be more robust than the PCR-based approach owing to reduced sensitivity to potential locus-specific artifacts. Furthermore the F(WS) metric captures information on a range of parameters which influence out-crossing risk including the number of clones (MOI), their relative proportions and genetic divergence. This approach should provide novel insights into the factors which correlate with, and shape within-host diversity.

Jallow M, Casals-Pascual C, Ackerman H, Walther B, Walther M, Pinder M, Sisay-Joof F, Usen S, Jallow M, Abubakar I et al. 2012. Clinical features of severe malaria associated with death: a 13-year observational study in the Gambia. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e45645. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe malaria (SM) is a major cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Identification of both specific and sensitive clinical features to predict death is needed to improve clinical management. METHODS: A 13-year observational study was conducted from 1997 through 2009 of 2,901 children with SM enrolled at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in The Gambia to identify sensitive and specific predictors of poor outcome in Gambian children with severe malaria between the ages 4 months to 14 years. We have measured the sensitivity and specificity of clinical features that predict death or development of neurological sequelae. FINDINGS: Impaired consciousness (odds ratio {OR} 4.4 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 2.7-7.3]), respiratory distress (OR 2.4 [95%CI, 1.7-3.2]), hypoglycemia (OR 1.7 [95%CI, 1.2-2.3]), jaundice (OR 1.9 [95%CI, 1.2-2.9]) and renal failure (OR 11.1 [95%CI, 3.3-36.5]) were independently associated with death in children with SM. The clinical features that showed the highest sensitivity and specificity to predict death were respiratory distress (area under the curve 0.63 [95%CI, 0.60-0.65]) and impaired consciousness (AUC 0.61[95%CI, 0.59-0.63]), which were comparable to the ability of hyperlactatemia (blood lactate>5 mM) to predict death (AUC 0.64 [95%CI, 0.55-0.72]). A Blantyre coma score (BCS) of 2 or less had a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 67% to predict death (AUC 0.70 [95% C.I. 0.68-0.72]), and sensitivity and specificity of 74% and 69%, respectively to predict development of neurological sequelae (AUC 0.72 [95% CI, 0.67-0.76]).The specificity of this BCS threshold to identify children at risk of dying improved in children less than 3 years of age (AUC 0.74, [95% C.I 0.71-0.76]). CONCLUSION: The BCS is a quantitative predictor of death. A BCS of 2 or less is the most sensitive and specific clinical feature to predict death or development of neurological sequelae in children with SM.

Dewasurendra RL, Suriyaphol P, Fernando SD, Carter R, Rockett K, Corran P, Kwiatkowski D, Karunaweera ND, 7 MalariaGEN Consortium. 2012. Genetic polymorphisms associated with anti-malarial antibody levels in a low and unstable malaria transmission area in southern Sri Lanka. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 281. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The incidence of malaria in Sri Lanka has significantly declined in recent years. Similar trends were seen in Kataragama, a known malaria endemic location within the southern province of the country, over the past five years. This is a descriptive study of anti-malarial antibody levels and selected host genetic mutations in residents of Kataragama, under low malaria transmission conditions. METHODS: Sera were collected from 1,011 individuals residing in Kataragama and anti-malarial antibodies and total IgE levels were measured by a standardized ELISA technique. Host DNA was extracted and used for genotyping of selected SNPs in known genes associated with malaria. The antibody levels were analysed in relation to the past history of malaria (during past 10 years), age, sex, the location of residence within Kataragama and selected host genetic markers. RESULTS: A significant increase in antibodies against Plasmodium falciparum antigens AMA1, MSP2, NANP and Plasmodium vivax antigen MSP1 in individuals with past history of malaria were observed when compared to those who did not. A marked increase of anti-MSP1(Pf) and anti-AMA1(Pv) was also evident in individuals between 45-59 years (when compared to other age groups). Allele frequencies for two SNPs in genes that code for IL-13 and TRIM-5 were found to be significantly different between those who have experienced one or more malaria attacks within past 10 years and those who did not. When antibody levels were classified into a low-high binary trait, significant associations were found with four SNPs for anti-AMA1(Pf); two SNPs for anti-MSP1(Pf); eight SNPs for anti-NANP(Pf); three SNPs for anti-AMA1(Pv); seven SNPs for anti-MSP1(Pv); and nine SNPs for total IgE. Eleven of these SNPs with significant associations with anti-malarial antibody levels were found to be non-synonymous. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence is suggestive of an age-acquired immunity in this study population in spite of low malaria transmission levels. Several SNPs were in linkage disequilibrium and had a significant association with elevated antibody levels, suggesting that these host genetic mutations might have an individual or collective effect on inducing or/and maintaining high anti-malarial antibody levels.

Oyola SO, Otto TD, Gu Y, Maslen G, Manske M, Campino S, Turner DJ, Macinnis B, Kwiatkowski DP, Swerdlow HP, Quail MA. 2012. Optimizing Illumina next-generation sequencing library preparation for extremely AT-biased genomes. BMC Genomics, 13 (1), pp. 1. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Massively parallel sequencing technology is revolutionizing approaches to genomic and genetic research. Since its advent, the scale and efficiency of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) has rapidly improved. In spite of this success, sequencing genomes or genomic regions with extremely biased base composition is still a great challenge to the currently available NGS platforms. The genomes of some important pathogenic organisms like Plasmodium falciparum (high AT content) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (high GC content) display extremes of base composition. The standard library preparation procedures that employ PCR amplification have been shown to cause uneven read coverage particularly across AT and GC rich regions, leading to problems in genome assembly and variation analyses. Alternative library-preparation approaches that omit PCR amplification require large quantities of starting material and hence are not suitable for small amounts of DNA/RNA such as those from clinical isolates. We have developed and optimized library-preparation procedures suitable for low quantity starting material and tolerant to extremely high AT content sequences. RESULTS: We have used our optimized conditions in parallel with standard methods to prepare Illumina sequencing libraries from a non-clinical and a clinical isolate (containing ~53% host contamination). By analyzing and comparing the quality of sequence data generated, we show that our optimized conditions that involve a PCR additive (TMAC), produces amplified libraries with improved coverage of extremely AT-rich regions and reduced bias toward GC neutral templates. CONCLUSION: We have developed a robust and optimized Next-Generation Sequencing library amplification method suitable for extremely AT-rich genomes. The new amplification conditions significantly reduce bias and retain the complexity of either extremes of base composition. This development will greatly benefit sequencing clinical samples that often require amplification due to low mass of DNA starting material.

Amambua-Ngwa A, Tetteh KK, Manske M, Gomez-Escobar N, Stewart LB, Deerhake ME, Cheeseman IH, Newbold CI, Holder AA, Knuepfer E et al. 2012. Population genomic scan for candidate signatures of balancing selection to guide antigen characterization in malaria parasites. PLoS Genet, 8 (11), pp. e1002992. | Show Abstract | Read more

Acquired immunity in vertebrates maintains polymorphisms in endemic pathogens, leading to identifiable signatures of balancing selection. To comprehensively survey for genes under such selection in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, we generated paired-end short-read sequences of parasites in clinical isolates from an endemic Gambian population, which were mapped to the 3D7 strain reference genome to yield high-quality genome-wide coding sequence data for 65 isolates. A minority of genes did not map reliably, including the hypervariable var, rifin, and stevor families, but 5,056 genes (90.9% of all in the genome) had >70% sequence coverage with minimum read depth of 5 for at least 50 isolates, of which 2,853 genes contained 3 or more single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for analysis of polymorphic site frequency spectra. Against an overall background of negatively skewed frequencies, as expected from historical population expansion combined with purifying selection, the outlying minority of genes with signatures indicating exceptionally intermediate frequencies were identified. Comparing genes with different stage-specificity, such signatures were most common in those with peak expression at the merozoite stage that invades erythrocytes. Members of clag, PfMC-2TM, surfin, and msp3-like gene families were highly represented, the strongest signature being in the msp3-like gene PF10_0355. Analysis of msp3-like transcripts in 45 clinical and 11 laboratory adapted isolates grown to merozoite-containing schizont stages revealed surprisingly low expression of PF10_0355. In diverse clonal parasite lines the protein product was expressed in a minority of mature schizonts (<1% in most lines and ∼10% in clone HB3), and eight sub-clones of HB3 cultured separately had an intermediate spectrum of positive frequencies (0.9 to 7.5%), indicating phase variable expression of this polymorphic antigen. This and other identified targets of balancing selection are now prioritized for functional study.

Tindana P, Bull S, Amenga-Etego L, de Vries J, Aborigo R, Koram K, Kwiatkowski D, Parker M. 2012. Seeking consent to genetic and genomic research in a rural Ghanaian setting: a qualitative study of the MalariaGEN experience. BMC Med Ethics, 13 (1), pp. 15. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Seeking consent for genetic and genomic research can be challenging, particularly in populations with low literacy levels, and in emergency situations. All of these factors were relevant to the MalariaGEN study of genetic factors influencing immune responses to malaria in northern rural Ghana. This study sought to identify issues arising in practice during the enrollment of paediatric cases with severe malaria and matched healthy controls into the MalariaGEN study. METHODS: The study used a rapid assessment incorporating multiple qualitative methods including in depth interviews, focus group discussions and observations of consent processes. Differences between verbal information provided during community engagement processes, and consent processes during the enrollment of cases and controls were identified, as well as the factors influencing the tailoring of such information. RESULTS: MalariaGEN participants and field staff seeking consent were generally satisfied with their understanding of the project and were familiar with aspects of the study relating to malaria. Some genetic aspects of the study were also well understood. Participants and staff seeking consent were less aware of the methodologies employed during genomic research and their implications, such as the breadth of data generated and the potential for future secondary research.Moreover, trust in and previous experience with the Navrongo Health Research Centre which was conducting the research influenced beliefs about the benefits of participating in the MalariaGEN study and subsequent decision-making about research participation. CONCLUSIONS: It is important to recognise that some aspects of complex genomic research may be of less interest to and less well understood by research participants and that such gaps in understanding may not be entirely addressed by best practice in the design and conduct of consent processes. In such circumstances consideration needs to be given to additional protections for participants that may need to be implemented in such research, and how best to provide such protections.Capacity building for research ethics committees with limited familiarity with genetic and genomic research, and appropriate engagement with communities to elicit opinions of the ethical issues arising and acceptability of downstream uses of genome wide association data are likely to be important.

Venkatesan M, Amaratunga C, Campino S, Auburn S, Koch O, Lim P, Uk S, Socheat D, Kwiatkowski DP, Fairhurst RM, Plowe CV. 2012. Using CF11 cellulose columns to inexpensively and effectively remove human DNA from Plasmodium falciparum-infected whole blood samples. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 41. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Genome and transcriptome studies of Plasmodium nucleic acids obtained from parasitized whole blood are greatly improved by depletion of human DNA or enrichment of parasite DNA prior to next-generation sequencing and microarray hybridization. The most effective method currently used is a two-step procedure to deplete leukocytes: centrifugation using density gradient media followed by filtration through expensive, commercially available columns. This method is not easily implemented in field studies that collect hundreds of samples and simultaneously process samples for multiple laboratory analyses. Inexpensive syringes, hand-packed with CF11 cellulose powder, were recently shown to improve ex vivo cultivation of Plasmodium vivax obtained from parasitized whole blood. This study was undertaken to determine whether CF11 columns could be adapted to isolate Plasmodium falciparum DNA from parasitized whole blood and achieve current quantity and purity requirements for Illumina sequencing. METHODS: The CF11 procedure was compared with the current two-step standard of leukocyte depletion using parasitized red blood cells cultured in vitro and parasitized blood obtained ex vivo from Cambodian patients with malaria. Procedural variations in centrifugation and column size were tested, along with a range of blood volumes and parasite densities. RESULTS: CF11 filtration reliably produces 500 nanograms of DNA with less than 50% human DNA contamination, which is comparable to that obtained by the two-step method and falls within the current quality control requirements for Illumina sequencing. In addition, a centrifuge-free version of the CF11 filtration method to isolate P. falciparum DNA at remote and minimally equipped field sites in malaria-endemic areas was validated. CONCLUSIONS: CF11 filtration is a cost-effective, scalable, one-step approach to remove human DNA from P. falciparum-infected whole blood samples.

Crosnier C, Bustamante LY, Bartholdson SJ, Bei AK, Theron M, Uchikawa M, Mboup S, Ndir O, Kwiatkowski DP, Duraisingh MT et al. 2011. Basigin is a receptor essential for erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum. Nature, 480 (7378), pp. 534-537. | Show Abstract | Read more

Erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum is central to the pathogenesis of malaria. Invasion requires a series of extracellular recognition events between erythrocyte receptors and ligands on the merozoite, the invasive form of the parasite. None of the few known receptor-ligand interactions involved are required in all parasite strains, indicating that the parasite is able to access multiple redundant invasion pathways. Here, we show that we have identified a receptor-ligand pair that is essential for erythrocyte invasion in all tested P. falciparum strains. By systematically screening a library of erythrocyte proteins, we have found that the Ok blood group antigen, basigin, is a receptor for PfRh5, a parasite ligand that is essential for blood stage growth. Erythrocyte invasion was potently inhibited by soluble basigin or by basigin knockdown, and invasion could be completely blocked using low concentrations of anti-basigin antibodies; importantly, these effects were observed across all laboratory-adapted and field strains tested. Furthermore, Ok(a-) erythrocytes, which express a basigin variant that has a weaker binding affinity for PfRh5, had reduced invasion efficiencies. Our discovery of a cross-strain dependency on a single extracellular receptor-ligand pair for erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum provides a focus for new anti-malarial therapies.

Diakite M, Achidi EA, Achonduh O, Craik R, Djimde AA, Evehe MS, Green A, Hubbart C, Ibrahim M, Jeffreys A et al. 2011. Host candidate gene polymorphisms and clearance of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 250. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Resistance to anti-malarial drugs is a widespread problem for control programmes for this devastating disease. Molecular tests are available for many anti-malarial drugs and are useful tools for the surveillance of drug resistance. However, the correlation of treatment outcome and molecular tests with particular parasite markers is not perfect, due in part to individuals who are able to clear genotypically drug-resistant parasites. This study aimed to identify molecular markers in the human genome that correlate with the clearance of malaria parasites after drug treatment, despite the drug resistance profile of the protozoan as predicted by molecular approaches. METHODS: 3721 samples from five African countries, which were known to contain genotypically drug resistant parasites, were analysed. These parasites were collected from patients who subsequently failed to clear their infection following drug treatment, as expected, but also from patients who successfully cleared their infections with drug-resistant parasites. 67 human polymorphisms (SNPs) on 17 chromosomes were analysed using Sequenom's mass spectrometry iPLEX gold platform, to identify regions of the human genome, which contribute to enhanced clearance of drug resistant parasites. RESULTS: An analysis of all data from the five countries revealed significant associations between the phenotype of ability to clear drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum infection and human immune response loci common to all populations. Overall, three SNPs showed a significant association with clearance of drug-resistant parasites with odds ratios of 0.76 for SNP rs2706384 (95% CI 0.71-0.92, P = 0.005), 0.66 for SNP rs1805015 (95% CI 0.45-0.97, P = 0.03), and 0.67 for SNP rs1128127 (95% CI 0.45-0.99, P = 0.05), after adjustment for possible confounding factors. The first two SNPs (rs2706384 and rs1805015) are within loci involved in pro-inflammatory (interferon-gamma) and anti-inflammatory (IL-4) cytokine responses. The third locus encodes a protein involved in the degradation of misfolded proteins within the endoplasmic reticulum, and its role, if any, in the clearance phenotype is unclear. CONCLUSIONS: The study showed significant association of three loci in the human genome with the ability of parasite to clear drug-resistant P. falciparum in samples taken from five countries distributed across sub-Saharan Africa. Both SNP rs2706384 and SNP1805015 have previously been reported to be associated with risk of malaria infection in African populations. The loci are involved in the Th1/Th2 balance, and the association of SNPs within these genes suggests a key role for antibody in the clearance of drug-resistant parasites. It is possible that patients able to clear drug-resistant infections have an enhanced ability to control parasite growth.

Auburn S, Campino S, Clark TG, Djimde AA, Zongo I, Pinches R, Manske M, Mangano V, Alcock D, Anastasi E et al. 2011. An effective method to purify Plasmodium falciparum DNA directly from clinical blood samples for whole genome high-throughput sequencing. PLoS One, 6 (7), pp. e22213. | Show Abstract | Read more

Highly parallel sequencing technologies permit cost-effective whole genome sequencing of hundreds of Plasmodium parasites. The ability to sequence clinical Plasmodium samples, extracted directly from patient blood without a culture step, presents a unique opportunity to sample the diversity of "natural" parasite populations in high resolution clinical and epidemiological studies. A major challenge to sequencing clinical Plasmodium samples is the abundance of human DNA, which may substantially reduce the yield of Plasmodium sequence. We tested a range of human white blood cell (WBC) depletion methods on P. falciparum-infected patient samples in search of a method displaying an optimal balance of WBC-removal efficacy, cost, simplicity, and applicability to low resource settings. In the first of a two-part study, combinations of three different WBC depletion methods were tested on 43 patient blood samples in Mali. A two-step combination of Lymphoprep plus Plasmodipur best fitted our requirements, although moderate variability was observed in human DNA quantity. This approach was further assessed in a larger sample of 76 patients from Burkina Faso. WBC-removal efficacy remained high (<30% human DNA in >70% samples) and lower variation was observed in human DNA quantities. In order to assess the Plasmodium sequence yield at different human DNA proportions, 59 samples with up to 60% human DNA contamination were sequenced on the Illumina Genome Analyzer platform. An average ~40-fold coverage of the genome was observed per lane for samples with ≤ 30% human DNA. Even in low resource settings, using a simple two-step combination of Lymphoprep plus Plasmodipur, over 70% of clinical sample preparations should exhibit sufficiently low human DNA quantities to enable ~40-fold sequence coverage of the P. falciparum genome using a single lane on the Illumina Genome Analyzer platform. This approach should greatly facilitate large-scale clinical and epidemiologic studies of P. falciparum.

Tan JC, Miller BA, Tan A, Patel JJ, Cheeseman IH, Anderson TJC, Manske M, Maslen G, Kwiatkowski DP, Ferdig MT. 2011. An optimized microarray platform for assaying genomic variation in Plasmodium falciparum field populations Genome Biology, 12 (4), pp. R35-R35. | Read more

Crosnier C, Bustamante LY, Bartholdson SJ, Bei AK, Theron M, Uchikawa M, Mboup S, Ndir O, Kwiatkowski DP, Duraisingh MT et al. 2011. Basigin is a receptor essential for erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum Nature, | Read more

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Robinson T, Campino SG, Auburn S, Assefa SA, Polley SD, Manske M, MacInnis B, Rockett KA, Maslen GL, Sanders M et al. 2011. Drug-resistant genotypes and multi-clonality in Plasmodium falciparum analysed by direct genome sequencing from peripheral blood of malaria patients PLoS ONE, 6 (8), | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired blood-stage infections of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum typically harbour multiple haploid clones. The apparent number of clones observed in any single infection depends on the diversity of the polymorphic markers used for the analysis, and the relative abundance of rare clones, which frequently fail to be detected among PCR products derived from numerically dominant clones. However, minority clones are of clinical interest as they may harbour genes conferring drug resistance, leading to enhanced survival after treatment and the possibility of subsequent therapeutic failure. We deployed new generation sequencing to derive genome data for five non-propagated parasite isolates taken directly from 4 different patients treated for clinical malaria in a UK hospital. Analysis of depth of coverage and length of sequence intervals between paired reads identified both previously described and novel gene deletions and amplifications. Full-length sequence data was extracted for 6 loci considered to be under selection by antimalarial drugs, and both known and previously unknown amino acid substitutions were identified. Full mitochondrial genomes were extracted from the sequencing data for each isolate, and these are compared against a panel of polymorphic sites derived from published or unpublished but publicly available data. Finally, genome-wide analysis of clone multiplicity was performed, and the number of infecting parasite clones estimated for each isolate. Each patient harboured at least 3 clones of P. falciparum by this analysis, consistent with results obtained with conventional PCR analysis of polymorphic merozoite antigen loci. We conclude that genome sequencing of peripheral blood P. falciparum taken directly from malaria patients provides high quality data useful for drug resistance studies, genomic structural analyses and population genetics, and also robustly represents clonal multiplicity. © 2011 Robinson et al.

Robinson T, Campino SG, Auburn S, Assefa SA, Polley SD, Manske M, MacInnis B, Rockett KA, Maslen GL, Sanders M et al. 2011. Drug-resistant genotypes and multi-clonality in Plasmodium falciparum analysed by direct genome sequencing from peripheral blood of malaria patients. PLoS One, 6 (8), pp. e23204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired blood-stage infections of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum typically harbour multiple haploid clones. The apparent number of clones observed in any single infection depends on the diversity of the polymorphic markers used for the analysis, and the relative abundance of rare clones, which frequently fail to be detected among PCR products derived from numerically dominant clones. However, minority clones are of clinical interest as they may harbour genes conferring drug resistance, leading to enhanced survival after treatment and the possibility of subsequent therapeutic failure. We deployed new generation sequencing to derive genome data for five non-propagated parasite isolates taken directly from 4 different patients treated for clinical malaria in a UK hospital. Analysis of depth of coverage and length of sequence intervals between paired reads identified both previously described and novel gene deletions and amplifications. Full-length sequence data was extracted for 6 loci considered to be under selection by antimalarial drugs, and both known and previously unknown amino acid substitutions were identified. Full mitochondrial genomes were extracted from the sequencing data for each isolate, and these are compared against a panel of polymorphic sites derived from published or unpublished but publicly available data. Finally, genome-wide analysis of clone multiplicity was performed, and the number of infecting parasite clones estimated for each isolate. Each patient harboured at least 3 clones of P. falciparum by this analysis, consistent with results obtained with conventional PCR analysis of polymorphic merozoite antigen loci. We conclude that genome sequencing of peripheral blood P. falciparum taken directly from malaria patients provides high quality data useful for drug resistance studies, genomic structural analyses and population genetics, and also robustly represents clonal multiplicity.

de Vries J, Bull SJ, Doumbo O, Ibrahim M, Mercereau-Puijalon O, Kwiatkowski D, Parker M. 2011. Ethical issues in human genomics research in developing countries. BMC Med Ethics, 12 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provide a powerful means of identifying genetic variants that play a role in common diseases. Such studies present important ethical challenges. An increasing number of GWAS is taking place in lower income countries and there is a pressing need to identify the particular ethical challenges arising in such contexts. In this paper, we draw upon the experiences of the MalariaGEN Consortium to identify specific ethical issues raised by such research in Africa, Asia and Oceania. DISCUSSION: We explore ethical issues in three key areas: protecting the interests of research participants, regulation of international collaborative genomics research and protecting the interests of scientists in low income countries. With regard to participants, important challenges are raised about community consultation and consent. Genomics research raises ethical and governance issues about sample export and ownership, about the use of archived samples and about the complexity of reviewing such large international projects. In the context of protecting the interests of researchers in low income countries, we discuss aspects of data sharing and capacity building that need to be considered for sustainable and mutually beneficial collaborations. SUMMARY: Many ethical issues are raised when genomics research is conducted on populations that are characterised by lower average income and literacy levels, such as the populations included in MalariaGEN. It is important that such issues are appropriately addressed in such research. Our experience suggests that the ethical issues in genomics research can best be identified, analysed and addressed where ethics is embedded in the design and implementation of such research projects.

Campino S, Auburn S, Kivinen K, Zongo I, Ouedraogo JB, Mangano V, Djimde A, Doumbo OK, Kiara SM, Nzila A et al. 2011. Population genetic analysis of Plasmodium falciparum parasites using a customized Illumina GoldenGate genotyping assay. PLoS One, 6 (6), pp. e20251. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diversity in the Plasmodium falciparum genome can be used to explore parasite population dynamics, with practical applications to malaria control. The ability to identify the geographic origin and trace the migratory patterns of parasites with clinically important phenotypes such as drug resistance is particularly relevant. With increasing single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery from ongoing Plasmodium genome sequencing projects, a demand for high SNP and sample throughput genotyping platforms for large-scale population genetic studies is required. Low parasitaemias and multiple clone infections present a number of challenges to genotyping P. falciparum. We addressed some of these issues using a custom 384-SNP Illumina GoldenGate assay on P. falciparum DNA from laboratory clones (long-term cultured adapted parasite clones), short-term cultured parasite isolates and clinical (non-cultured isolates) samples from East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Eighty percent of the SNPs (n = 306) produced reliable genotype calls on samples containing as little as 2 ng of total genomic DNA and on whole genome amplified DNA. Analysis of artificial mixtures of laboratory clones demonstrated high genotype calling specificity and moderate sensitivity to call minor frequency alleles. Clear resolution of geographically distinct populations was demonstrated using Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and global patterns of population genetic diversity were consistent with previous reports. These results validate the utility of the platform in performing population genetic studies of P. falciparum.

Thye T, Vannberg FO, Wong SH, Owusu-Dabo E, Osei I, Gyapong J, Sirugo G, Sisay-Joof F, Enimil A, Chinbuah MA et al. 2010. Genome-wide association analyses identifies a susceptibility locus for tuberculosis on chromosome 18q11.2. Nat Genet, 42 (9), pp. 739-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

We combined two tuberculosis genome-wide association studies from Ghana and The Gambia with subsequent replication in a combined 11,425 individuals. rs4331426, located in a gene-poor region on chromosome 18q11.2, was associated with disease (combined P = 6.8 x 10(-9), odds ratio = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.13-1.27). Our study demonstrates that genome-wide association studies can identify new susceptibility loci for infectious diseases, even in African populations, in which levels of linkage disequilibrium are particularly low.

Clark TG, Campino SG, Anastasi E, Auburn S, Teo YY, Small K, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Holmes CC. 2010. A Bayesian approach using covariance of single nucleotide polymorphism data to detect differences in linkage disequilibrium patterns between groups of individuals. Bioinformatics, 26 (16), pp. 1999-2003. | Show Abstract | Read more

MOTIVATION: Quantifying differences in linkage disequilibrium (LD) between sub-groups can highlight genetic regions or sites under selection and/or associated with disease, and may have utility in trans-ethnic mapping studies. RESULTS: We present a novel pseudo Bayes factor (PBF) approach that assess differences in covariance of genotype frequencies from single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data from a genome-wide study. The magnitude of the PBF reflects the strength of evidence for a difference, while accounting for the sample size and number of SNPs, without the requirement for permutation testing to establish statistical significance. Application of the PBF to HapMap and Gambian malaria SNP data reveals regional LD differences, some known to be under selection. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The PBF approach has been implemented in the BALD (Bayesian analysis of LD differences) C++ software, and is available from http://homepages.lshtm.ac.uk/tgclark/downloads.

Savy M, Hennig BJ, Doherty CP, Fulford AJ, Bailey R, Holland MJ, Sirugo G, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM, Cox SE. 2010. Haptoglobin and sickle cell polymorphisms and risk of active trachoma in Gambian children. PLoS One, 5 (6), pp. e11075. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Susceptibility and resistance to trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, have been associated with a range of host genetic factors. In vitro studies of the causative organism, Chlamydia trachomatis, demonstrate that iron availability regulates its growth, suggesting that host genes involved in regulating iron status and/or availability may modulate the risk of trachoma. The objective was to investigate whether haptoglobin (Hp) haplotypes constructed from the functional polymorphism (Hp1/Hp2) plus the functional promoter SNPs -61A-C (rs5471) and -101C-G (rs5470), or sickle cell trait (HbAS, rs334) were associated with risk of active trachoma when stratified by age and sex, in rural Gambian children. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In two cross sectional surveys of children aged 6-78 months (n = 836), the prevalence of the clinical signs of active trachoma was 21.4%. Within boys, haplotype E (-101G, -61A, Hp1), containing the variant allele of the -101C-G promoter SNP, was associated with a two-fold increased risk of active trachoma (OR = 2.0 [1.17-3.44]). Within girls, an opposite association was non-significant (OR = 0.58 [0.32-1.04]; P = 0.07) and the interaction by sex was statistically significant (P = 0.001). There was no association between trachoma and HbAS. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that genetic variation in Hp may affect susceptibility to active trachoma differentially by sex in The Gambia.

Khor CC, Vannberg FO, Chapman SJ, Guo H, Wong SH, Walley AJ, Vukcevic D, Rautanen A, Mills TC, Chang KC et al. 2010. CISH and susceptibility to infectious diseases. N Engl J Med, 362 (22), pp. 2092-2101. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The interleukin-2-mediated immune response is critical for host defense against infectious pathogens. Cytokine-inducible SRC homology 2 (SH2) domain protein (CISH), a suppressor of cytokine signaling, controls interleukin-2 signaling. METHODS: Using a case-control design, we tested for an association between CISH polymorphisms and susceptibility to major infectious diseases (bacteremia, tuberculosis, and severe malaria) in blood samples from 8402 persons in Gambia, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malawi, and Vietnam. We had previously tested 20 other immune-related genes in one or more of these sample collections. RESULTS: We observed associations between variant alleles of multiple CISH polymorphisms and increased susceptibility to each infectious disease in each of the study populations. When all five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (at positions -639, -292, -163, +1320, and +3415 [all relative to CISH]) within the CISH-associated locus were considered together in a multiple-SNP score, we found an association between CISH genetic variants and susceptibility to bacteremia, malaria, and tuberculosis (P=3.8x10(-11) for all comparisons), with -292 accounting for most of the association signal (P=4.58x10(-7)). Peripheral-blood mononuclear cells obtained from adult subjects carrying the -292 variant, as compared with wild-type cells, showed a muted response to the stimulation of interleukin-2 production--that is, 25 to 40% less CISH expression. CONCLUSIONS: Variants of CISH are associated with susceptibility to diseases caused by diverse infectious pathogens, suggesting that negative regulators of cytokine signaling have a role in immunity against various infectious diseases. The overall risk of one of these infectious diseases was increased by at least 18% among persons carrying the variant CISH alleles.

Eid NA, Hussein AA, Elzein AM, Mohamed HS, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Ibrahim ME. 2010. Candidate malaria susceptibility/protective SNPs in hospital and population-based studies: the effect of sub-structuring. Malar J, 9 (1), pp. 119. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Populations of East Africa including Sudan, exhibit some of the highest indices of genetic diversity in the continent and worldwide. The current study aims to address the possible impact of population structure and population stratification on the outcome of case-control association-analysis of malaria candidate-genes in different Sudanese populations, where the pronounced genetic heterogeneity becomes a source of concern for the potential effect on the studies outcome. METHODS: A total of 72 SNPs were genotyped using the Sequenom iPLEX Gold assay in 449 DNA samples that included; cases and controls from two village populations, malaria patients and out-patients from the area of Sinnar and additional controls consisting of healthy Nilo-Saharan speaking individuals. The population substructure was estimated using the Structure 2.2 programme. RESULTS & DISCUSSION: The Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium values were generally within expectation in Hausa and Massalit. However, in the Sinnar area there was a notable excess of homozygosity, which was attributed to the Whalund effect arising from population amalgamation within the sample. The programme STRUCTURE revealed a division of both Hausa and Massalit into two substructures with the partition in Hausa more pronounced than in Massalit; In Sinnar there was no defined substructure. More than 25 of the 72 SNPs assayed were informative in all areas. Some important SNPs were not differentially distributed between malaria cases and controls, including SNPs in CD36 and NOS2. A number of SNPs showed significant p-values for differences in distribution of genotypes between cases and controls including: rs1805015 (in IL4R1) (P = 0.001), rs17047661 (in CR1) (P = 0.02) and rs1800750 (TNF-376)(P = 0.01) in the hospital samples; rs1050828 (G6PD+202) (P = 0.02) and rs1800896 (IL10-1082) (P = 0.04) in Massalit and rs2243250 (IL4-589) (P = 0.04) in Hausa. CONCLUSIONS: The difference in population structure partly accounts for some of these significant associations, and the strength of association proved to be sensitive to all levels of sub-structuring whether in the hospital or population-based study.

Boraska V, Rayner NW, Groves CJ, Frayling TM, Diakite M, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Day-Williams AG, McCarthy MI, Zeggini E. 2010. Large-scale association analysis of TNF/LTA gene region polymorphisms in type 2 diabetes. BMC Med Genet, 11 (1), pp. 69. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The TNF/LTA locus has been a long-standing T2D candidate gene. Several studies have examined association of TNF/LTA SNPs with T2D but the majority have been small-scale and produced no convincing evidence of association. The purpose of this study is to examine T2D association of tag SNPs in the TNF/LTA region capturing the majority of common variation in a large-scale sample set of UK/Irish origin. METHODS: This study comprised a case-control (1520 cases and 2570 control samples) and a family-based component (423 parent-offspring trios). Eleven tag SNPs (rs928815, rs909253, rs746868, rs1041981 (T60N), rs1800750, rs1800629 (G-308A), rs361525 (G-238A), rs3093662, rs3093664, rs3093665, and rs3093668) were selected across the TNF/LTA locus and genotyped using a fluorescence-based competitive allele specific assay. Quality control of the obtained genotypes was performed prior to single- and multi-point association analyses under the additive model. RESULTS: We did not find any consistent SNP associations with T2D in the case-control or family-based datasets. CONCLUSIONS: The present study, designed to analyse a set of tag SNPs specifically selected to capture the majority of common variation in the TNF/LTA gene region, found no robust evidence for association with T2D. To investigate the presence of smaller effects of TNF/LTA gene variation with T2D, a large-scale meta-analysis will be required.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Craddock N, Hurles ME, Cardin N, Pearson RD, Plagnol V, Robson S, Vukcevic D, Barnes C, Conrad DF et al. 2010. Genome-wide association study of CNVs in 16,000 cases of eight common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature, 464 (7289), pp. 713-720. | Show Abstract | Read more

Copy number variants (CNVs) account for a major proportion of human genetic polymorphism and have been predicted to have an important role in genetic susceptibility to common disease. To address this we undertook a large, direct genome-wide study of association between CNVs and eight common human diseases. Using a purpose-designed array we typed approximately 19,000 individuals into distinct copy-number classes at 3,432 polymorphic CNVs, including an estimated approximately 50% of all common CNVs larger than 500 base pairs. We identified several biological artefacts that lead to false-positive associations, including systematic CNV differences between DNAs derived from blood and cell lines. Association testing and follow-up replication analyses confirmed three loci where CNVs were associated with disease-IRGM for Crohn's disease, HLA for Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, and TSPAN8 for type 2 diabetes-although in each case the locus had previously been identified in single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based studies, reflecting our observation that most common CNVs that are well-typed on our array are well tagged by SNPs and so have been indirectly explored through SNP studies. We conclude that common CNVs that can be typed on existing platforms are unlikely to contribute greatly to the genetic basis of common human diseases.

Teo YY, Small KS, Kwiatkowski DP. 2010. Methodological challenges of genome-wide association analysis in Africa. Nat Rev Genet, 11 (2), pp. 149-160. | Show Abstract | Read more

Medical research in Africa has yet to benefit from the advent of genome-wide association (GWA) analysis, partly because the genotyping tools and statistical methods that have been developed for European and Asian populations struggle to deal with the high levels of genome diversity and population structure in Africa. However, the haplotypic diversity of African populations might help to overcome one of the major roadblocks in GWA research, the fine mapping of causal variants. We review the methodological challenges and consider how GWA studies in Africa will be transformed by new approaches in statistical imputation and large-scale genome sequencing.

Auburn S, Fry AE, Clark TG, Campino S, Diakite M, Green A, Richardson A, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M et al. 2010. Further evidence supporting a role for gs signal transduction in severe malaria pathogenesis. PLoS One, 5 (4), pp. e10017. | Show Abstract | Read more

With the functional demonstration of a role in erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum parasites, implications in the aetiology of common conditions that prevail in individuals of African origin, and a wealth of pharmacological knowledge, the stimulatory G protein (Gs) signal transduction pathway presents an exciting target for anti-malarial drug intervention. Having previously demonstrated a role for the G-alpha-s gene, GNAS, in severe malaria disease, we sought to identify other important components of the Gs pathway. Using meta-analysis across case-control and family trio (affected child and parental controls) studies of severe malaria from The Gambia and Malawi, we sought evidence of association in six Gs pathway candidate genes: adenosine receptor 2A (ADORA2A) and 2B (ADORA2B), beta-adrenergic receptor kinase 1 (ADRBK1), adenylyl cyclase 9 (ADCY9), G protein beta subunit 3 (GNB3), and regulator of G protein signalling 2 (RGS2). Our study amassed a total of 2278 cases and 2364 controls. Allele-based models of association were investigated in all genes, and genotype and haplotype-based models were investigated where significant allelic associations were identified. Although no significant associations were observed in the other genes, several were identified in ADORA2A. The most significant association was observed at the rs9624472 locus, where the G allele (approximately 20% frequency) appeared to confer enhanced risk to severe malaria [OR = 1.22 (1.09-1.37); P = 0.001]. Further investigation of the ADORA2A gene region is required to validate the associations identified here, and to identify and functionally characterize the responsible causal variant(s). Our results provide further evidence supporting a role of the Gs signal transduction pathway in the regulation of severe malaria, and request further exploration of this pathway in future studies.

Natividad A, Hull J, Luoni G, Holland M, Rockett K, Joof H, Burton M, Mabey D, Kwiatkowski D, Bailey R. 2009. Innate immunity in ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection: contribution of IL8 and CSF2 gene variants to risk of trachomatous scarring in Gambians. BMC Med Genet, 10 (1), pp. 138. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Trachoma, a chronic keratoconjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, is the world's commonest infectious cause of blindness. Blindness is due to progressive scarring of the conjunctiva (trachomatous scarring) leading to in-turning of eyelashes (trichiasis) and corneal opacification. We evaluated the contribution of genetic variation across the chemokine and cytokine clusters in chromosomes 4q and 5q31 respectively to risk of scarring trachoma and trichiasis in a large case-control association study in a Gambian population. METHODS: Linkage disequilibrium (LD) mapping was used to investigate risk effects across the 4q and 5q31 cytokine clusters in relation to the risk of scarring sequelae of ocular Ct infection. Disease association and epistatic effects were assessed in a population based study of 651 case-control pairs by conditional logistic regression (CLR) analyses. RESULTS: LD mapping suggested that genetic effects on risk within these regions mapped to the pro-inflammatory innate immune genes interleukin 8 (IL8) and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulatory factor (CSF2) loci. The IL8-251 rare allele (IL8-251 TT) was associated with protection from scarring trachoma (OR = 0.29 p = 0.027). The intronic CSF2_27348 A allele in chromosome 5q31 was associated with dose dependent protection from trichiasis, with each copy of the allele reducing risk by 37% (p = 0.005). There was evidence of epistasis, with effects at IL8 and CSF2 loci interacting with those previously reported at the MMP9 locus, a gene acting downstream to IL8 and CSF2 in the inflammatory cascade. CONCLUSION: innate immune response SNP-haplotypes are linked to ocular Ct sequelae. This work illustrates the first example of epistatic effects of two genes on trachoma.

Parker M, Bull SJ, de Vries J, Agbenyega T, Doumbo OK, Kwiatkowski DP. 2009. Ethical data release in genome-wide association studies in developing countries. PLoS Med, 6 (11), pp. e1000143. | Read more

Almagro-Garcia J, Manske M, Carret C, Campino S, Auburn S, Macinnis BL, Maslen G, Pain A, Newbold CI, Kwiatkowski DP, Clark TG. 2009. SnoopCGH: software for visualizing comparative genomic hybridization data. Bioinformatics, 25 (20), pp. 2732-2733. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) technology is used to discover and validate genomic structural variation, including copy number variants, insertions, deletions and other structural variants (SVs). The visualization and summarization of the array CGH data outputs, potentially across many samples, is an important process in the identification and analysis of SVs. We have developed a software tool for SV analysis using data from array CGH technologies, which is also amenable to short-read sequence data. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: SnoopCGH is written in java and is available from http://snoopcgh.sourceforge.net/

Teo YY, Fry AE, Bhattacharya K, Small KS, Kwiatkowski DP, Clark TG. 2009. Genome-wide comparisons of variation in linkage disequilibrium. Genome Res, 19 (10), pp. 1849-1860. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current genome-wide surveys of common diseases and complex traits fundamentally aim to detect indirect associations where the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) carrying the association signals are not biologically active but are in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with some unknown functional polymorphisms. Reproducing any novel discoveries from these genome-wide scans in independent studies is now a prerequisite for the putative findings to be accepted. Significant differences in patterns of LD between populations can affect the portability of phenotypic associations when the replication effort or meta-analyses are attempted in populations that are distinct from the original population in which the genome-wide study is performed. Here, we introduce a novel method for genome-wide analyses of LD variations between populations that allow the identification of candidate regions with different patterns of LD. The evidence of LD variation provided by the introduced method correlated with the degree of differences in the frequencies of the most common haplotype across the populations. Identified regions also resulted in greater variation in the success of replication attempts compared with random regions in the genome. A separate permutation strategy introduced for assessing LD variation in the absence of genome-wide data also correctly identified the expected variation in LD patterns in two well-established regions undergoing strong population-specific evolutionary pressure. Importantly, this method addresses whether a failure to reproduce a disease association in a disparate population is due to underlying differences in LD structure with an unknown functional polymorphism, which is vital in the current climate of replicating and fine-mapping established findings from genome-wide association studies.

Clark TG, Fry AE, Auburn S, Campino S, Diakite M, Green A, Richardson A, Teo YY, Small K, Wilson J et al. 2009. Allelic heterogeneity of G6PD deficiency in West Africa and severe malaria susceptibility. Eur J Hum Genet, 17 (8), pp. 1080-1085. | Show Abstract | Read more

Several lines of evidence link glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency to protection from severe malaria. Early reports suggested most G6PD deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa was because of the 202A/376G G6PD A- allele, and recent association studies of G6PD deficiency have employed genotyping as a convenient way to determine enzyme status. However, further work has suggested that other G6PD deficiency alleles are relatively common in some regions of West Africa. To investigate the consequences of unrecognized allelic heterogeneity on association studies, in particular studies of G6PD deficiency and malaria, we carried out a case-control analysis of 2488 Gambian children with severe malaria and 3875 controls. No significant association was found between severe malaria and the 202A/376G G6PD A- allele when analyzed alone, but pooling 202A/376G with other deficiency alleles revealed the signal of protection (male odds ratio (OR) 0.77, 95% CI 0.62-0.95, P=0.016; female OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.89, P=0.004). We have identified the 968C mutation as the most common G6PD A- allele in The Gambia. Our results highlight some of the consequences of allelic heterogeneity, particularly the increased type I error. They also suggest that G6PD-deficient male hemizygotes and female heterozygotes are protected from severe malaria.

Fry AE, Ghansa A, Small KS, Palma A, Auburn S, Diakite M, Green A, Campino S, Teo YY, Clark TG et al. 2009. Positive selection of a CD36 nonsense variant in sub-Saharan Africa, but no association with severe malaria phenotypes. Hum Mol Genet, 18 (14), pp. 2683-2692. | Show Abstract | Read more

The prevalence of CD36 deficiency in East Asian and African populations suggests that the causal variants are under selection by severe malaria. Previous analysis of data from the International HapMap Project indicated that a CD36 haplotype bearing a nonsense mutation (T1264G; rs3211938) had undergone recent positive selection in the Yoruba of Nigeria. To investigate the global distribution of this putative selection event, we genotyped T1264G in 3420 individuals from 66 populations. We confirmed the high frequency of 1264G in the Yoruba (26%). However, the 1264G allele is less common in other African populations and absent from all non-African populations without recent African admixture. Using long-range linkage disequilibrium, we studied two West African groups in depth. Evidence for recent positive selection at the locus was demonstrable in the Yoruba, although not in Gambians. We screened 70 variants from across CD36 for an association with severe malaria phenotypes, employing a case-control study of 1350 subjects and a family study of 1288 parent-offspring trios. No marker was significantly associated with severe malaria. We focused on T1264G, genotyping 10,922 samples from four African populations. The nonsense allele was not associated with severe malaria (pooled allelic odds ratio 1.0; 95% confidence interval 0.89-1.12; P = 0.98). These results suggest a range of possible explanations including the existence of alternative selection pressures on CD36, co-evolution between host and parasite or confounding caused by allelic heterogeneity of CD36 deficiency.

Jallow M, Teo YY, Small KS, Rockett KA, Deloukas P, Clark TG, Kivinen K, Bojang KA, Conway DJ, Pinder M et al. 2009. Genome-wide and fine-resolution association analysis of malaria in West Africa. Nat Genet, 41 (6), pp. 657-665. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a genome-wide association (GWA) study of severe malaria in The Gambia. The initial GWA scan included 2,500 children genotyped on the Affymetrix 500K GeneChip, and a replication study included 3,400 children. We used this to examine the performance of GWA methods in Africa. We found considerable population stratification, and also that signals of association at known malaria resistance loci were greatly attenuated owing to weak linkage disequilibrium (LD). To investigate possible solutions to the problem of low LD, we focused on the HbS locus, sequencing this region of the genome in 62 Gambian individuals and then using these data to conduct multipoint imputation in the GWA samples. This increased the signal of association, from P = 4 × 10(-7) to P = 4 × 10(-14), with the peak of the signal located precisely at the HbS causal variant. Our findings provide proof of principle that fine-resolution multipoint imputation, based on population-specific sequencing data, can substantially boost authentic GWA signals and enable fine mapping of causal variants in African populations.

Forton JT, Rowlands K, Rockett K, Hanchard N, Herbert M, Kwiatkowski DP, Hull J. 2009. Genetic association study for RSV bronchiolitis in infancy at the 5q31 cytokine cluster. Thorax, 64 (4), pp. 345-352. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The pathophysiological basis of severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis in infancy is poorly understood and has hindered vaccine development. Studies implicate the cell-mediated immune response in the pathogenesis of the disease. A recent twin study estimated a heritable contribution of 22% to RSV bronchiolitis. Genetic epidemiology provides a new approach to identifying important immune determinants of disease severity. METHODS: A comprehensive high-density gene-region association study for severe RSV bronchiolitis in infancy at 5q31 across 11 genes including the Th2-cytokine cluster was performed. A haplotype tagging approach was used to analyse genetic variation at 113 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 780 independent cases and 1045 controls. The study had sufficient power to detect small effects, perform extensive haplotype analysis and analyse both a principal phenotype and a refined age-limited phenotype enriched for first-exposure RSV infection. RESULTS: SNP associations were found at IL4 and a highly significant risk haplotype was identified across IL13 CNS-1 and IL4 (odds ratio 1.69, p<0.0001), present in both case-control and family-based analyses. All associations were strongest for a phenotype limited to <6 months of age, implicating this locus in primary RSV disease. The same risk haplotype has previously been shown to be associated with increased IL13 expression. CONCLUSIONS: A haplotype at IL13-1L4, which is associated with increased IL13 production, confers an increased risk of severe primary RSV bronchiolitis in early infancy. This study, together with previous studies implicating the same locus in atopic sensitisation, suggests that primary RSV bronchiolitis and atopy share a genetic contribution at the IL13-IL4 locus.

Clark TG, Diakite M, Auburn S, Campino S, Fry AE, Green A, Richardson A, Small K, Teo YY, Wilson J et al. 2009. Tumor necrosis factor and lymphotoxin-alpha polymorphisms and severe malaria in African populations. J Infect Dis, 199 (4), pp. 569-575. | Show Abstract | Read more

The tumor necrosis factor gene (TNF) and lymphotoxin-alpha gene (LTA) have long attracted attention as candidate genes for susceptibility traits for malaria, and several of their polymorphisms have been found to be associated with severe malaria (SM) phenotypes. In a large study involving >10,000 individuals and encompassing 3 African populations, we found evidence to support the reported associations between the TNF -238 polymorphism and SM in The Gambia. However, no TNF/LTA polymorphisms were found to be associated with SM in cohorts in Kenya and Malawi. It has been suggested that the causal polymorphisms regulating the TNF and LTA responses may be located some distance from the genes. Therefore, more-detailed mapping of variants across TNF/LTA genes and their flanking regions in the Gambian and allied populations may need to be undertaken to find any causal polymorphisms.

Diakite M, Clark TG, Auburn S, Campino S, Fry AE, Green A, Morris AP, Richardson A, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F et al. 2009. A genetic association study in the Gambia using tagging polymorphisms in the major histocompatibility complex class III region implicates a HLA-B associated transcript 2 polymorphism in severe malaria susceptibility. Hum Genet, 125 (1), pp. 105-109. | Show Abstract | Read more

The tumour necrosis factor (TNF) gene and other genes flanking it in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region are potentially important mediators of both immunity and pathogenesis of malaria. We investigated the association of severe malaria with 11 haplotype tagging-polymorphisms for 11 MHC class III candidate genes, including TNF, lymphotoxin alpha (LTA), allograft inflammatory factor 1 (AIF1), and HLA-B associated transcript 2 (BAT2). An analysis of 2,162 case-controls demonstrated the first evidence of association between a BAT2 polymorphism (rs1046089) and severe malaria.

Teo YY, Small KS, Fry AE, Wu Y, Kwiatkowski DP, Clark TG. 2009. Power consequences of linkage disequilibrium variation between populations. Genet Epidemiol, 33 (2), pp. 128-135. | Show Abstract | Read more

We quantify the degree to which LD differences exist in the human genome and investigates the consequences that variations in patterns of LD between populations can have on the power of case-control or family-trio association studies. Although only a small proportion of SNPs show significant LD differences (0.8-5%), these can introduce artificial signals of associations and reduce the power to detect true associations in case-control designs, even when meta-analytic approaches are used to account for stratification. We show that combining trios from different populations in the presence of significant LD differences can adversely affect power even though the number of trios has increased. Our results have implications on genetic studies conducted in populations with substantial population structure and show that the use of meta-analytic approaches or family-based designs to protect Type 1 error does not prevent loss of power due to differences in LD across populations.

Teo YY, Fry AE, Sanjoaquin MA, Pederson B, Small KS, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Clark TG. 2009. Assessing genuine parents-offspring trios for genetic association studies. Hum Hered, 67 (1), pp. 26-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Family-based association tests such as the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) are dependent on the successful ascertainment of true nuclear family trios. Relationship misspecification inevitably occurs in a proportion of trios collected for genotyping which undetected can lead to a loss of power and increased Type I error due to biases in over-transmission of common alleles. Here, we introduce a method for evaluating the authenticity of nuclear family trios. METHODS: Operating in a Bayesian framework, our approach assesses the extent of pedigree inconsistent genotype configurations in the presence of genotyping errors. Unlike other approaches, our method: (i) utilizes information from three individuals collectively (the whole trio) rather than consider two independent pairwise relationships; (ii) down-weighs SNPs with poor performance; (iii) does not require the user to pre-define a rate of genotyping error, which is often unknown to the user and seldom fixed across the different SNPs considered which available methods unrealistically assumed. RESULTS: Simulation studies and comparisons with a real set of data showed that our approach is more likely to correctly identify the presence of true and misspecified trios compared to available software, accurately infers the extent of relationship misspecification in a trio and accurately estimates the genotyping error rates. CONCLUSIONS: Assessing relationship misspecification depends on the fidelity of the genotype data used. Available algorithms are not optimised for genotyping technology with varying rates of errors across the markers. Through our comparison studies, our approach is shown to outperform available methods for assessing relationship misspecifications.

Mangano VD, Clark TG, Auburn S, Campino S, Diakite M, Fry AE, Green A, Richardson A, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F et al. 2009. Lack of association of interferon regulatory factor 1 with severe malaria in affected child-parental trio studies across three African populations. PLoS One, 4 (1), pp. e4206. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF-1) is a member of the IRF family of transcription factors, which have key and diverse roles in the gene-regulatory networks of the immune system. IRF-1 has been described as a critical mediator of IFN-gamma signalling and as the major player in driving TH1 type responses. It is therefore likely to be crucial in both innate and adaptive responses against intracellular pathogens such as Plasmodium falciparum. Polymorphisms at the human IRF1 locus have been previously found to be associated with the ability to control P. falciparum infection in populations naturally exposed to malaria. In order to test whether genetic variation at the IRF1 locus also affects the risk of developing severe malaria, we performed a family-based test of association for 18 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) across the gene in three African populations, using genotype data from 961 trios consisting of one affected child and his/her two parents (555 from The Gambia, 204 from Kenya and 202 from Malawi). No significant association with severe malaria or severe malaria subphenotypes (cerebral malaria and severe malaria anaemia) was observed for any of the SNPs/haplotypes tested in any of the study populations. Our results offer no evidence that the molecular pathways regulated by the transcription factor IRF-1 are involved in the immune-based pathogenesis of severe malaria.

Manske HM, Kwiatkowski DP. 2009. SNP-o-matic Bioinformatics, 25 (18), pp. 2434-2435. | Read more

Campino S, Forton J, Auburn S, Fry A, Diakite M, Richardson A, Hull J, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M et al. 2009. TLR9 polymorphisms in African populations: no association with severe malaria, but evidence of cis-variants acting on gene expression. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 44. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: During malaria infection the Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is activated through induction with plasmodium DNA or another malaria motif not yet identified. Although TLR9 activation by malaria parasites is well reported, the implication to the susceptibility to severe malaria is not clear. The aim of this study was to assess the contribution of genetic variation at TLR9 to severe malaria. METHODS: This study explores the contribution of TLR9 genetic variants to severe malaria using two approaches. First, an association study of four common single nucleotide polymorphisms was performed on both family- and population-based studies from Malawian and Gambian populations (n>6000 individual). Subsequently, it was assessed whether TLR9 expression is affected by cis-acting variants and if these variants could be mapped. For this work, an allele specific expression (ASE) assay on a panel of HapMap cell lines was carried out. RESULTS: No convincing association was found with polymorphisms in TLR9 for malaria severity, in either Gambian or Malawian populations, using both case-control and family based study designs. Using an allele specific expression assay it was observed that TLR9 expression is affected by cis-acting variants, these results were replicated in a second experiment using biological replicates. CONCLUSION: By using the largest cohorts analysed to date, as well as a standardized phenotype definition and study design, no association of TLR9 genetic variants with severe malaria was found. This analysis considered all common variants in the region, but it is remains possible that there are rare variants with association signals. This report also shows that TLR9 expression is potentially modulated through cis-regulatory variants, which may lead to differential inflammatory responses to infection between individuals.

Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network. 2008. A global network for investigating the genomic epidemiology of malaria. Nature, 456 (7223), pp. 732-737. | Show Abstract | Read more

Large-scale studies of genomic variation could assist efforts to eliminate malaria. But there are scientific, ethical and practical challenges to carrying out such studies in developing countries, where the burden of disease is greatest. The Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) is now working to overcome these obstacles, using a consortial approach that brings together researchers from 21 countries.

Auburn S, Diakite M, Fry AE, Ghansah A, Campino S, Richardson A, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M, Griffiths MJ et al. 2008. Association of the GNAS locus with severe malaria. Hum Genet, 124 (5), pp. 499-506. | Show Abstract | Read more

Functional studies have demonstrated an interaction between the stimulatory G protein alpha subunit (G-alpha-s) and the malaria parasite at a cellular level. Obstruction of signal transduction via the erythrocyte G-alpha-s subunit reduced invasion by Plasmodium falciparum parasites. We sought to determine whether this signal pathway had an impact at the disease level by testing polymorphisms in the gene encoding G-alpha-s (GNAS) for association with severe malaria in a large multi-centre study encompassing family and case-control studies from The Gambia, Kenya and Malawi, and a case-control study from Ghana. We gained power to detect association using meta-analysis across the seven studies, with an overall sample size approximating 4,000 cases and 4,000 controls. Out of 12 SNPs investigated in the 19 kb GNAS region, four presented signals of association (P < 0.05) with severe malaria. The strongest single-locus association demonstrated an odds ratio of 1.13 (1.05-1.21), P = 0.001. Three of the loci presenting significant associations were clustered at the 5-prime end of the GNAS gene. Accordingly, haplotypes constructed from these loci demonstrated significant associations with severe malaria [OR = 0.88 (0.81-0.96), P = 0.005 and OR = 1.12 (1.03-1.20), P = 0.005]. The evidence presented here indicates that the influence of G-alpha-s on erythrocyte invasion efficacy may, indeed, alter individual susceptibility to disease.

Atkinson SH, Rockett KA, Morgan G, Bejon PA, Sirugo G, O'Connell MA, Hanchard N, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2008. Tumor necrosis factor SNP haplotypes are associated with iron deficiency anemia in West African children. Blood, 112 (10), pp. 4276-4283. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) are significantly raised in malaria infection and TNF-alpha is thought to inhibit intestinal iron absorption and macrophage iron release. This study investigated putative functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes across the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region, including TNF and its immediate neighbors nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells (lkappaBL), inhibitor-like 1 and lymphotoxin alpha (LTA), in relation to nutritional iron status and anemia, in a cohort of 780 children across a malaria season. The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) increased over the malaria season (P < .001). The TNF(-308) AA genotype was associated with an increased risk of iron deficiency (adjusted OR 8.1; P = .001) and IDA (adjusted OR 5.1; P = .01) at the end of the malaria season. No genotypes were associated with IDA before the malaria season. Thus, TNF appears to be a risk factor for iron deficiency and IDA in children in a malaria-endemic environment and this is likely to be due to a TNF-alpha-induced block in iron absorption.

Idro R, Williams TN, Gwer S, Uyoga S, Macharia A, Opi H, Atkinson S, Maitland K, Kager PA, Kwiatkowski D et al. 2008. Haptoglobin HP2-2 genotype, alpha-thalassaemia and acute seizures in children living in a malaria-endemic area. Epilepsy Res, 81 (2-3), pp. 114-118. | Show Abstract | Read more

Polymorphisms of the haptoglobin (HP) gene and deletions in alpha-globin gene (alpha-thalassaemia) are common in malaria-endemic Africa. The same region also has high incidence rates for childhood acute seizures. The haptoglobin HP2-2 genotype has been associated with idiopathic generalized epilepsies and altered iron metabolism in children with alpha-thalassaemia can potentially interfere with neurotransmission and increase the risk of seizures. We investigated the hypothesis that the HP2-2 genotype and the common African alpha-globin gene deletions are associated with the increased risk of seizures. 288 children aged 3-156 months admitted with acute seizures to Kilifi District Hospital (Kenya), were matched for ethnicity to an equal number of community controls. The proportion of cases (72/288 [25.0%]) and controls (80/288 [27.8%]) with HP2-2 genotype was similar, p=0.499. The allele frequency of HP2 gene in cases (49.3%) and controls (48.6%) was also similar, p=0.814. Similarly, we found no significant difference between the proportion of cases (177/267 [66.3%]) and controls (186/267 [69.7%]) with deletions in alpha-globin gene (p=0.403). Among cases, HP2-2 polymorphism and deletions in alpha-globin gene were neither associated with changes in the type, number or duration of seizures nor did they affect outcome. We conclude that the HP2-2 polymorphism and deletions in alpha-globin gene are not risk factors for acute seizures in children. Future studies should examine other susceptibility genes.

Fry AE, Auburn S, Diakite M, Green A, Richardson A, Wilson J, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M, Griffiths MJ et al. 2008. Variation in the ICAM1 gene is not associated with severe malaria phenotypes. Genes Immun, 9 (5), pp. 462-469. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evidence from autopsy and in vitro binding studies suggests that adhesion of erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum to the human host intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 receptor is important in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Previous association studies between polymorphisms in the ICAM1 gene and susceptibility to severe malarial phenotypes have been inconclusive and often contradictory. We performed genetic association studies with 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around the ICAM1 locus. All SNPs were screened in a family study of 1071 trios from The Gambia, Malawi and Kenya. Two key non-synonymous SNPs with previously reported associations, rs5491 (K56M or 'ICAM-1(Kilifi)') and rs5498 (K469E), were tested in an additional 708 Gambian trios and a case-control study of 4058 individuals. None of the polymorphisms were associated with severe malaria phenotypes. Pooled results across our studies for ICAM-1(Kilifi) were, in severe malaria, odds ratio (OR) 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96-1.09, P=0.54, and cerebral malaria OR 1.07, CI 0.97-1.17, P=0.17. We assess the available epidemiological, population genetic and functional evidence that links ICAM-1(Kilifi) to severe malaria susceptibility.

Teo YY, Small KS, Clark TG, Kwiatkowski DP. 2008. Perturbation analysis: a simple method for filtering SNPs with erroneous genotyping in genome-wide association studies. Ann Hum Genet, 72 (Pt 3), pp. 368-374. | Show Abstract | Read more

We introduce a simple and yet scientifically objective criterion for identifying SNPs with genotyping errors due to poor clustering. This yields a metric for assessing the stability of the assigned genotypes by evaluating the extent of discordance between the calls made with the unperturbed and perturbed intensities. The efficacy of the metric is evaluated by: (1) estimating the extent of over-dispersion of the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium chi-square test statistics; (2) an interim case-control study, where we investigated the efficacy of the introduced metric and standard quality control filters in reducing the number of SNPs with evidence of phenotypic association which are attributed to genotyping errors; (3) investigating the call and concordance rates of SNPs identified by perturbation analysis which have been genotyped on both Affymetrix and Illumina platforms. Removing SNPs identified by the extent of discordance can reduce the degree of over-dispersion of the HWE test statistic. Sensible use of perturbation analysis in an association study can correctly identify SNPs with problematic genotyping, reducing the number required for visual inspection. SNPs identified by perturbation analysis had lower call and concordance rates, and removal of these SNPs significantly improved the performance for the remaining SNPs.

Teo YY, Inouye M, Small KS, Fry AE, Potter SC, Dunstan SJ, Seielstad M, Barroso I, Wareham NJ, Rockett KA et al. 2008. Whole genome-amplified DNA: insights and imputation. Nat Methods, 5 (4), pp. 279-280. | Read more

Mangano VD, Luoni G, Rockett KA, Sirima BS, Konaté A, Forton J, Clark TG, Bancone G, Sadighi Akha E, Kwiatkowski DP, Modiano D. 2008. Interferon regulatory factor-1 polymorphisms are associated with the control of Plasmodium falciparum infection. Genes Immun, 9 (2), pp. 122-129. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe the haplotypic structure of the interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) locus in two West African ethnic groups, Fulani and Mossi, that differ in their susceptibility and immune response to Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Both populations showed significant associations between IRF-1 polymorphisms and carriage of P. falciparum infection, with different patterns of association that may reflect their different haplotypic architecture. Genetic variation at this locus does not therefore account for the Fulani-specific resistance to malaria while it could contribute to parasite clearance's ability in populations living in endemic areas. We then conducted a case-control study of three haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) in 370 hospitalised malaria patients (160 severe and 210 uncomplicated) and 410 healthy population controls, all from the Mossi ethnic group. All three htSNPs showed correlation with blood infection levels in malaria patients, and the rs10065633 polymorphism was associated with severe disease (P=0.02). These findings provide the first evidence of the involvement in malaria susceptibility of a specific locus within the 5q31 region, previously shown to be linked with P. falciparum infection levels.

Calis JC, Phiri KS, Faragher EB, Brabin BJ, Bates I, Cuevas LE, de Haan RJ, Phiri AI, Malange P, Khoka M et al. 2008. Severe anemia in Malawian children. N Engl J Med, 358 (9), pp. 888-899. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe anemia is a major cause of sickness and death in African children, yet the causes of anemia in this population have been inadequately studied. METHODS: We conducted a case-control study of 381 preschool children with severe anemia (hemoglobin concentration, <5.0 g per deciliter) and 757 preschool children without severe anemia in urban and rural settings in Malawi. Causal factors previously associated with severe anemia were studied. The data were examined by multivariate analysis and structural equation modeling. RESULTS: Bacteremia (adjusted odds ratio, 5.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.6 to 10.9), malaria (adjusted odds ratio, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.6 to 3.3), hookworm (adjusted odds ratio, 4.8; 95% CI, 2.0 to 11.8), human immunodeficiency virus infection (adjusted odds ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0 to 3.8), the G6PD(-202/-376) genetic disorder (adjusted odds ratio, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.3 to 4.4), vitamin A deficiency (adjusted odds ratio, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3 to 5.8), and vitamin B12 deficiency (adjusted odds ratio, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.6) were associated with severe anemia. Folate deficiency, sickle cell disease, and laboratory signs of an abnormal inflammatory response were uncommon. Iron deficiency was not prevalent in case patients (adjusted odds ratio, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.60) and was negatively associated with bacteremia. Malaria was associated with severe anemia in the urban site (with seasonal transmission) but not in the rural site (where malaria was holoendemic). Seventy-six percent of hookworm infections were found in children under 2 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: There are multiple causes of severe anemia in Malawian preschool children, but folate and iron deficiencies are not prominent among them. Even in the presence of malaria parasites, additional or alternative causes of severe anemia should be considered.

Fry AE, Griffiths MJ, Auburn S, Diakite M, Forton JT, Green A, Richardson A, Wilson J, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F et al. 2008. Common variation in the ABO glycosyltransferase is associated with susceptibility to severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Hum Mol Genet, 17 (4), pp. 567-576. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is growing epidemiological and molecular evidence that ABO blood group affects host susceptibility to severe Plasmodium falciparum infection. The high frequency of common ABO alleles means that even modest differences in susceptibility could have a significant impact on the health of people living in malaria endemic regions. We performed an association study, the first to utilize key molecular genetic variation underlying the ABO system, genotyping >9000 individuals across three African populations. Using population- and family-based tests, we demonstrated that alleles producing functional ABO enzymes are associated with greater risk of severe malaria phenotypes (particularly malarial anemia) in comparison with the frameshift deletion underlying blood group O: case-control allelic odds ratio (OR), 1.2; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09-1.32; P = 0.0003; family-studies allelic OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.08-1.32; P = 0.001; pooled across all studies allelic OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.11-1.26; P = 2 x 10(-7). We found suggestive evidence of a parent-of-origin effect at the ABO locus by analyzing the family trios. Non-O haplotypes inherited from mothers, but not fathers, are significantly associated with severe malaria (likelihood ratio test of Weinberg, P = 0.046). Finally, we used HapMap data to demonstrate a region of low F(ST) (-0.001) between the three main HapMap population groups across the ABO locus, an outlier in the empirical distribution of F(ST) across chromosome 9 (approximately 99.5-99.9th centile). This low F(ST) region may be a signal of long-standing balancing selection at the ABO locus, caused by multiple infectious pathogens including P. falciparum.

Cited:

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Achidi EA, Agbenyega T, Allen S, Amodu O, Bojang K, Conway D, Corran P, Deloukas P, Djimde A, Dolo A et al. 2008. A global network for investigating the genomic epidemiology of malaria Nature, 456 (7223), pp. 732-737. | Show Abstract | Read more

Large-scale studies of genomic variation could assist efforts to eliminate malaria. But there are scientific, ethical and practical challenges to carrying out such studies in developing countries, where the burden of disease is greatest. The Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) is now working to overcome these obstacles, using a consortial approach that brings together researchers from 21 countries. © 2008 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Callaghan MJ, Rockett K, Banner C, Haralambous E, Betts H, Faust S, Maiden MC, Kroll JS, Levin M, Kwiatkowski DP, Pollard AJ. 2008. Haplotypic diversity in human CEACAM genes: effects on susceptibility to meningococcal disease. Genes Immun, 9 (1), pp. 30-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

Adhesion between the opacity-associated adhesin (Opa) proteins of Neisseria meningitidis and human carcino-embryonic antigen cell adhesion molecule (CEACAM) proteins is an important stage in the pathogenesis of meningococcal disease, a globally important bacterial infection. Most disease is caused by a small number of meningococcal genotypes known as hyperinvasive lineages. As these are also carried asymptomatically, acquisition of them alone cannot explain why only some hosts develop meningococcal disease. Our aim was to determine whether genetic diversity in CEACAM is associated with susceptibility to meningococcal disease. Frequency distributions of alleles, genotypes and haplotypes were compared in four CEACAM genes in 384 case samples and 190 controls. Linkage disequilibrium among polymorphic sites, haplotype structures and relationships were also analysed. A number of polymorphisms were observed in CEACAM genes but the diversity of CEACAM1, to which most Opa proteins bind, was lower, and a small number of high-frequency haplotypes were detected. Dose-dependent associations of three CEACAM haplotypes with meningococcal disease were observed, with the effect of carrying these haplotypes amplified in homozygous individuals. Two haplotypes were protective while one haplotype in CEACAM6 was associated with a twofold increase in disease susceptibility. These data imply that human CEACAM may be one determinant of human susceptibility to meningococcal disease.

Cox SE, Doherty CP, Atkinson SH, Nweneka CV, Fulford AJ, Sirugo G, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2008. Haptoglobin genotype, anaemia and malaria in Gambian children. Trop Med Int Health, 13 (1), pp. 76-82. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To retest our previous finding that the haptoglobin (Hp) 22 genotype is associated with seasonal anaemia, and to investigate the role of malaria in this effect. METHODS: Haemoglobin (Hb) and peripheral parasitaemia were assessed at pre- and post-malarial season cross-sectional surveys in rural Gambian children aged 10-72 months. Between the surveys, active longitudinal surveillance was conducted to detect febrile episodes. RESULTS: Unlike previously, no overall reduction in Hb was observed (Hb = 106.1 vs. 107.2 g/l, P = 0.13, n = 545). However, multi-variable linear regression revealed differences in Hb over the season by Hp and Hb-sickle (HbS) genotype (-2.20 g/l per copy of the Hp2 allele, P = 0.043; HbAS vs. HbAA + 3.13 g/l, P = 0.11, n = 536). There was no effect of malarial episodes during follow-up; this suggests that when effective treatment is given, Hb levels recover. The A61-C Hp promoter SNP, associated with the Hp2 allele, had no effect. CONCLUSION: The effect of the Hp2 allele appears to be independent of effects on malaria incidence but may affect Hb levels through increased oxidant stress and red cell turnover. This may be supported by our previous observations that the effect of Hp22 was independent of markers of iron status and zinc protoporphyrin measured at the cross-sectional surveys and therefore also of iron availability for erythropoiesis.

Natividad A, Holland MJ, Rockett KA, Forton J, Faal N, Joof HM, Mabey DC, Bailey RL, Kwiatkowski DP. 2008. Susceptibility to sequelae of human ocular chlamydial infection associated with allelic variation in IL10 cis-regulation. Hum Mol Genet, 17 (2), pp. 323-329. | Show Abstract | Read more

Trachoma, an infectious disease of the conjunctiva caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, causes scarring and blindness in some infected individuals but not others. In an African community where trachoma is endemic, we have previously identified an IL10 haplotype that is associated with increased risk of scarring complications. Here we examine the hypothesis that the risk haplotype (H-RISK) affects levels of IL10 expression in the conjunctiva during active trachoma infection. To overcome potential genetic and environmental confounders we used the method of allele-specific quantification, which involved identifying subjects in the community who had active trachoma and were also heterozygous for the H-RISK. We find that there is allelic variation in cis-regulation of IL10 in the conjunctiva during active trachoma, with the H-RISK generating relatively more IL10 transcripts than other haplotypes in this population (average difference in IL10 allelic transcripts in the conjunctiva of heterozygous individuals infected with C. trachomatis of 23% (95% confidence interval: 14-32%, P < 0.0001). These findings provide a plausible functional explanation for the observed genetic association, and support the hypothesis that an excessive IL10 response to C. trachomatis infection is a risk factor for scarring and blindness.

Campino S, Forton J, Raj S, Mohr B, Auburn S, Fry A, Mangano VD, Vandiedonck C, Richardson A, Rockett K et al. 2008. Validating discovered Cis-acting regulatory genetic variants: application of an allele specific expression approach to HapMap populations. PLoS One, 3 (12), pp. e4105. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Localising regulatory variants that control gene expression is a challenge for genome research. Several studies have recently identified non-coding polymorphisms associated with inter-individual differences in gene expression. These approaches rely on the identification of signals of association against a background of variation due to other genetic and environmental factors. A complementary approach is to use an Allele-Specific Expression (ASE) assay, which is more robust to the effects of environmental variation and trans-acting genetic factors. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we apply an ASE method which utilises heterozygosity within an individual to compare expression of the two alleles of a gene in a single cell. We used individuals from three HapMap population groups and analysed the allelic expression of genes with cis-regulatory regions previously identified using total gene expression studies. We were able to replicate the results in five of the six genes tested, and refined the cis- associated regions to a small number of variants. We also showed that by using multi-populations it is possible to refine the associated cis-effect DNA regions. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We discuss the efficacy and drawbacks of both total gene expression and ASE approaches in the discovery of cis-acting variants. We show that the ASE approach has significant advantages as it is a cleaner representation of cis-acting effects. We also discuss the implication of using different populations to map cis-acting regions and the importance of finding regulatory variants which contribute to human phenotypic variation.

Ntoumi F, Kwiatkowski DP, Diakité M, Mutabingwa TK, Duffy PE. 2007. New interventions for malaria: mining the human and parasite genomes. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (6 Suppl), pp. 270-275. | Show Abstract

Malaria has been the greatest scourge of humankind for many millennia, and as a consequence has had more impact than any other pathogen in shaping the human genome. The sequencing of the human genome provides a new opportunity to determine the genetic traits that confer resistance to infection or disease. The identification of these traits can reveal immune responses, or host-parasite interactions, which may be useful for designing vaccines or new drugs. Similarly, the parasite genome sequence is being exploited to accelerate the development of new antimalarial interventions, for example by identifying parasite metabolic pathways that may be targeted by drugs. The malaria parasites are well known for their ability to undergo antigenic variation, and in parallel to cause a diverse array of disease syndromes, including the severe syndromes that commonly cause death. Genome-based technologies are being harnessed to relate gene and protein expression levels, or genetic variation, to the parasite forms that are targets of protective immunity. Well-conducted clinical studies are required to relate host or parasite diversity with disease. However, genomics studies of human populations raise important ethical issues, such as the disposition of data related to disease susceptibility or paternity, and the ability of communities to understand the nature of the research.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium (TASC), Burton PR, Clayton DG, Cardon LR, Craddock N, Deloukas P, Duncanson A, Kwiatkowski DP, McCarthy MI et al. 2007. Association scan of 14,500 nonsynonymous SNPs in four diseases identifies autoimmunity variants. Nat Genet, 39 (11), pp. 1329-1337. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have genotyped 14,436 nonsynonymous SNPs (nsSNPs) and 897 major histocompatibility complex (MHC) tag SNPs from 1,000 independent cases of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), multiple sclerosis (MS) and breast cancer (BC). Comparing these data against a common control dataset derived from 1,500 randomly selected healthy British individuals, we report initial association and independent replication in a North American sample of two new loci related to ankylosing spondylitis, ARTS1 and IL23R, and confirmation of the previously reported association of AITD with TSHR and FCRL3. These findings, enabled in part by increased statistical power resulting from the expansion of the control reference group to include individuals from the other disease groups, highlight notable new possibilities for autoimmune regulation and suggest that IL23R may be a common susceptibility factor for the major 'seronegative' diseases.

Teo YY, Inouye M, Small KS, Gwilliam R, Deloukas P, Kwiatkowski DP, Clark TG. 2007. A genotype calling algorithm for the Illumina BeadArray platform. Bioinformatics, 23 (20), pp. 2741-2746. | Show Abstract | Read more

MOTIVATION: Large-scale genotyping relies on the use of unsupervised automated calling algorithms to assign genotypes to hybridization data. A number of such calling algorithms have been recently established for the Affymetrix GeneChip genotyping technology. Here, we present a fast and accurate genotype calling algorithm for the Illumina BeadArray genotyping platforms. As the technology moves towards assaying millions of genetic polymorphisms simultaneously, there is a need for an integrated and easy-to-use software for calling genotypes. RESULTS: We have introduced a model-based genotype calling algorithm which does not rely on having prior training data or require computationally intensive procedures. The algorithm can assign genotypes to hybridization data from thousands of individuals simultaneously and pools information across multiple individuals to improve the calling. The method can accommodate variations in hybridization intensities which result in dramatic shifts of the position of the genotype clouds by identifying the optimal coordinates to initialize the algorithm. By incorporating the process of perturbation analysis, we can obtain a quality metric measuring the stability of the assigned genotype calls. We show that this quality metric can be used to identify SNPs with low call rates and accuracy. AVAILABILITY: The C++ executable for the algorithm described here is available by request from the authors.

Khor CC, Vannberg FO, Chapman SJ, Walley A, Aucan C, Loke H, White NJ, Peto T, Khor LK, Kwiatkowski D et al. 2007. Positive replication and linkage disequilibrium mapping of the chromosome 21q22.1 malaria susceptibility locus. Genes Immun, 8 (7), pp. 570-576. | Show Abstract | Read more

Four cytokine receptor genes are located on Chr21q22.11, encoding the alpha and beta subunits of the interferon-alpha receptor (IFNAR1 and IFNAR2), the beta subunit of the interleukin 10 receptor (IL10RB) and the second subunit of the interferon-gamma receptor (IFNGR2). We previously reported that two variants in IFNAR1 were associated with susceptibility to malaria in Gambians. We now present an extensive fine-scale mapping of the associated region utilizing 45 additional genetic markers obtained from public databases and by sequencing a 44 kb region in and around the IFNAR1 gene in 24 Gambian children (12 cases/12 controls). Within the IFNAR1 gene, a newly studied C --> G single-nucleotide polymorphism (IFNAR1 272354c-g) at position -576 relative to the transcription start was found to be more strongly associated with susceptibility to severe malaria. Association was observed in three populations: in Gambian (P=0.002), Kenyan (P=0.022) and Vietnamese (P=0.005) case-control studies. When all three studies were combined, using the Mantel-Haenszel test, the presence of IFNAR1 -576G was associated with a substantially elevated risk of severe malaria (N=2444, OR=1.38, 95% CI: 1.17-1.64; P=1.7 x 10(-4)). This study builds on previous work to further highlight the importance of the type-I interferon pathway in malaria susceptibility and illustrates the utility of typing SNPs within regions of high linkage disequilibrium in multiple populations to confirm initial positive associations.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. 2007. Genome-wide association study of 14,000 cases of seven common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature, 447 (7145), pp. 661-678. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is increasing evidence that genome-wide association (GWA) studies represent a powerful approach to the identification of genes involved in common human diseases. We describe a joint GWA study (using the Affymetrix GeneChip 500K Mapping Array Set) undertaken in the British population, which has examined approximately 2,000 individuals for each of 7 major diseases and a shared set of approximately 3,000 controls. Case-control comparisons identified 24 independent association signals at P < 5 x 10(-7): 1 in bipolar disorder, 1 in coronary artery disease, 9 in Crohn's disease, 3 in rheumatoid arthritis, 7 in type 1 diabetes and 3 in type 2 diabetes. On the basis of prior findings and replication studies thus-far completed, almost all of these signals reflect genuine susceptibility effects. We observed association at many previously identified loci, and found compelling evidence that some loci confer risk for more than one of the diseases studied. Across all diseases, we identified a large number of further signals (including 58 loci with single-point P values between 10(-5) and 5 x 10(-7)) likely to yield additional susceptibility loci. The importance of appropriately large samples was confirmed by the modest effect sizes observed at most loci identified. This study thus represents a thorough validation of the GWA approach. It has also demonstrated that careful use of a shared control group represents a safe and effective approach to GWA analyses of multiple disease phenotypes; has generated a genome-wide genotype database for future studies of common diseases in the British population; and shown that, provided individuals with non-European ancestry are excluded, the extent of population stratification in the British population is generally modest. Our findings offer new avenues for exploring the pathophysiology of these important disorders. We anticipate that our data, results and software, which will be widely available to other investigators, will provide a powerful resource for human genetics research.

Natividad A, Hanchard N, Holland MJ, Mahdi OS, Diakite M, Rockett K, Jallow O, Joof HM, Kwiatkowski DP, Mabey DC, Bailey RL. 2007. Genetic variation at the TNF locus and the risk of severe sequelae of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection in Gambians. Genes Immun, 8 (4), pp. 288-295. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is thought to be a key mediator of the inflammatory and fibrotic response to Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) infection. A large matched-pair case-control study investigated putative functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region, including TNF and its immediate neighbors nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells (IkappaBL), inhibitor like 1 and lymphotoxin alpha (LTA) in relation to the risk of scarring sequelae of ocular Ct infection. Haplotype and linkage disequilibrium analysis demonstrated two haplotypes, differing at position TNF-308, conferring an increased risk of trichiasis. The TNF-308A allele, and its bearing haplotype, correlated with increased TNF production in lymphocyte cultures stimulated with chlamydial elementary body antigen. Thus TNF-308A may determine directly, or be a marker of a high TNF producer phenotype associated with increased risk of sequelae of chlamydial infection. Multivariate analysis provided evidence for the presence of additional risk-associated variants near the TNF locus.

Hull J, Campino S, Rowlands K, Chan MS, Copley RR, Taylor MS, Rockett K, Elvidge G, Keating B, Knight J, Kwiatkowski D. 2007. Identification of common genetic variation that modulates alternative splicing. PLoS Genet, 3 (6), pp. e99. | Show Abstract | Read more

Alternative splicing of genes is an efficient means of generating variation in protein function. Several disease states have been associated with rare genetic variants that affect splicing patterns. Conversely, splicing efficiency of some genes is known to vary between individuals without apparent ill effects. What is not clear is whether commonly observed phenotypic variation in splicing patterns, and hence potential variation in protein function, is to a significant extent determined by naturally occurring DNA sequence variation and in particular by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In this study, we surveyed the splicing patterns of 250 exons in 22 individuals who had been previously genotyped by the International HapMap Project. We identified 70 simple cassette exon alternative splicing events in our experimental system; for six of these, we detected consistent differences in splicing pattern between individuals, with a highly significant association between splice phenotype and neighbouring SNPs. Remarkably, for five out of six of these events, the strongest correlation was found with the SNP closest to the intron-exon boundary, although the distance between these SNPs and the intron-exon boundary ranged from 2 bp to greater than 1,000 bp. Two of these SNPs were further investigated using a minigene splicing system, and in each case the SNPs were found to exert cis-acting effects on exon splicing efficiency in vitro. The functional consequences of these SNPs could not be predicted using bioinformatic algorithms. Our findings suggest that phenotypic variation in splicing patterns is determined by the presence of SNPs within flanking introns or exons. Effects on splicing may represent an important mechanism by which SNPs influence gene function.

Cox SE, Doherty C, Atkinson SH, Nweneka CV, Fulford AJ, Ghattas H, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2007. Haplotype association between haptoglobin (Hp2) and Hp promoter SNP (A-61C) may explain previous controversy of haptoglobin and malaria protection. PLoS One, 2 (4), pp. e362. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria is one of the strongest recent selective pressures on the human genome, as evidenced by the high levels of varying haemoglobinopathies in human populations-despite the increased risk of mortality in the homozygous states. Previously, functional polymorphisms of Hp, coded by the co-dominant alleles Hp1 and Hp2, have been variously associated with several infectious diseases, including malaria susceptibility. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Risk of a clinical malarial episode over the course of a malarial transmission season was assessed using active surveillance in a cohort of Gambian children aged 10-72 months. We report for the first time that the major haplotype for the A-61C mutant allele in the promoter of haptoglobin (Hp)-an acute phase protein that clears haemoglobin released from haemolysis of red cells-is associated with protection from malarial infection in older children, (children aged >or=36 months, >500 parasites/ul and temperature >37.5 degrees C; OR = 0.42; [95% CI 0.24-0.73] p = 0.002) (lr test for interaction, <36 vs >or=36 months, p = 0.014). Protection was also observed using two other definitions, including temperature >37.5 degrees C, dipstick positive, plus clinical judgement of malaria blinded to dipstick result (all ages, OR = 0.48, [95% CI 0.30-0.78] p = 0.003; >or=36 months, OR = 0.31, [95% CI 0.15-0.62] p = 0.001). A similar level of protection was observed for the known protective genetic variant, sickle cell trait (HbAS). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We propose that previous conflicting results between Hp phenotypes/genotypes and malaria susceptibility may be explained by differing prevalence of the A-61C SNP in the populations studied, which we found to be highly associated with the Hp2 allele. We report the -61C allele to be associated with decreased Hp protein levels (independent of Hp phenotype), confirming in vitro studies. Decreased Hp expression may lead to increased oxidant stress and increased red cell turnover, and facilitate the development of acquired immunity, similar to a mechanism suggested for sickle cell trait.

Khor CC, Chapman SJ, Vannberg FO, Dunne A, Murphy C, Ling EY, Frodsham AJ, Walley AJ, Kyrieleis O, Khan A et al. 2007. A Mal functional variant is associated with protection against invasive pneumococcal disease, bacteremia, malaria and tuberculosis. Nat Genet, 39 (4), pp. 523-528. | Show Abstract | Read more

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and members of their signaling pathway are important in the initiation of the innate immune response to a wide variety of pathogens. The adaptor protein Mal (also known as TIRAP), encoded by TIRAP (MIM 606252), mediates downstream signaling of TLR2 and TLR4 (refs. 4-6). We report a case-control study of 6,106 individuals from the UK, Vietnam and several African countries with invasive pneumococcal disease, bacteremia, malaria and tuberculosis. We genotyped 33 SNPs, including rs8177374, which encodes a leucine substitution at Ser180 of Mal. We found that heterozygous carriage of this variant associated independently with all four infectious diseases in the different study populations. Combining the study groups, we found substantial support for a protective effect of S180L heterozygosity against these infectious diseases (N = 6,106; overall P = 9.6 x 10(-8)). We found that the Mal S180L variant attenuated TLR2 signal transduction.

Chokshi DA, Thera MA, Parker M, Diakite M, Makani J, Kwiatkowski DP, Doumbo OK. 2007. Valid consent for genomic epidemiology in developing countries. PLoS Med, 4 (4), pp. e95. | Read more

Forton JT, Udalova IA, Campino S, Rockett KA, Hull J, Kwiatkowski DP. 2007. Localization of a long-range cis-regulatory element of IL13 by allelic transcript ratio mapping. Genome Res, 17 (1), pp. 82-87. | Show Abstract | Read more

It appears that, for many genes, the two alleles possessed by an individual may produce different amounts of transcript. When such allelic differences in transcription are observed for some individuals but not others, a plausible explanation is genetic variation in the cis-acting elements that regulate the gene in question. Here we describe a novel analytical approach that uses such observations, combined with genotyping data from the HapMap project, to define the genomic location of cis-acting regulatory elements. When applied to the human 5q31 chromosomal region, where complex regulatory mechanisms are known to exist, we demonstrate the sensitivity of this approach by locating a highly significant cis-regulatory element operating on IL13 at long range from a position 250 kb upstream from the gene (P = 2 x 10(-6)). As this method is unaffected by other sources of variation, such as environmental and trans-acting genetic factors, it provides a tractable approach for dissecting the complexities of genetic variation in gene regulation.

Nejentsev S, Howson JM, Walker NM, Szeszko J, Field SF, Stevens HE, Reynolds P, Hardy M, King E, Masters J et al. 2007. Localization of type 1 diabetes susceptibility to the MHC class I genes HLA-B and HLA-A. Nature, 450 (7171), pp. 887-892. | Show Abstract | Read more

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6 is associated with susceptibility to more common diseases than any other region of the human genome, including almost all disorders classified as autoimmune. In type 1 diabetes the major genetic susceptibility determinants have been mapped to the MHC class II genes HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DRB1 (refs 1-3), but these genes cannot completely explain the association between type 1 diabetes and the MHC region. Owing to the region's extreme gene density, the multiplicity of disease-associated alleles, strong associations between alleles, limited genotyping capability, and inadequate statistical approaches and sample sizes, which, and how many, loci within the MHC determine susceptibility remains unclear. Here, in several large type 1 diabetes data sets, we analyse a combined total of 1,729 polymorphisms, and apply statistical methods-recursive partitioning and regression-to pinpoint disease susceptibility to the MHC class I genes HLA-B and HLA-A (risk ratios >1.5; P(combined) = 2.01 x 10(-19) and 2.35 x 10(-13), respectively) in addition to the established associations of the MHC class II genes. Other loci with smaller and/or rarer effects might also be involved, but to find these, future searches must take into account both the HLA class II and class I genes and use even larger samples. Taken together with previous studies, we conclude that MHC-class-I-mediated events, principally involving HLA-B*39, contribute to the aetiology of type 1 diabetes.

Wilson JN, Rockett K, Keating B, Jallow M, Pinder M, Sisay-Joof F, Newport M, Kwiatkowski D. 2006. A hallmark of balancing selection is present at the promoter region of interleukin 10. Genes Immun, 7 (8), pp. 680-683. | Show Abstract | Read more

As an anti-inflammatory mediator IL10 is beneficial in certain contexts and deleterious in others. As increased production of IL10 favours protection against inflammatory disease, whereas low production promotes elimination of foreign pathogens by the host, we investigated the possible influence of balancing selection at this locus. We began by resequencing 48 European and 48 African chromosomes across 2.2 kb of the IL10 promoter region, and compared this with four neighbouring gene regions: MK2, IL19, IL20 and IL24. Analysis of nucleotide diversity showed a positive Tajima's D-test for IL10 in Europeans, of borderline statistical significance (1.89, P=0.05). Analysis of F(st) values showed significant population divergence at MK2, IL19, IL20 and IL24 (P<0.01) but not at IL10. Taken together, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that balancing selection has played a role in the evolution of polymorphisms in the IL10 promoter region.

Forton JT, Kwiatkowski DP. 2006. Searching for the regulators of human gene expression. Bioessays, 28 (10), pp. 968-972. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many common human traits are believed to be a composite reflection of multiple genetic and non-genetic factors and the genetic contribution is consequently often difficult to characterise. Recent advances suggest that subtle variation in the regulation of gene expression may contribute to complex human traits. In two reports, Cheung and colleagues scale up human genetics analysis to an impressive level in a genome-wide search for the regulators of gene expression. They perform linkage analysis on expression profiles for over 3,500 genes and then employ the HapMap resource to take positive findings through to association studies at the genome-wide level. This work gives new insights into the complexities of gene regulation and the plausibility of genome-wide study design.

Taylor T, Olola C, Valim C, Agbenyega T, Kremsner P, Krishna S, Kwiatkowski D, Newton C, Missinou M, Pinder M, Wypij D. 2006. Standardized data collection for multi-center clinical studies of severe malaria in African children: establishing the SMAC network. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (7), pp. 615-622. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Severe Malaria in African Children (SMAC) network was established to conduct mortality-based trials. Although falciparum malaria kills more than one million children each year, single centers cannot enroll enough patients to detect reductions of 20-30% in mortality rates. Our aim was to quantify and describe severe malaria across a variety of epidemiological settings so that we could design intervention studies with more precise sample size estimates. We used a standardized surveillance mechanism to capture clinical, laboratory and outcome data on all parasitemic children admitted to hospital. Between December 2000 and December 2003, 20333 patients were enrolled at five sites. The frequency of severe malaria syndromes (cerebral malaria, severe malarial anemia and acidosis) differed between sites, as did the syndrome-specific mortality rates. Intervention studies targeted at reducing mortality in one or a combination of severe malaria syndromes would require 3-4 years to complete within the existing network. These data provide more accurate estimates of the disease burden of children hospitalized for malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Networks are required to recruit enough patients for mortality-based studies and to encompass the epidemiological diversity of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. SMAC represents the first effort to develop this capacity.

Hanchard N, Diakite M, Koch O, Keating B, Pinder M, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Nijnik A, Wilson J, Udalova I et al. 2006. Implications of inter-population linkage disequilibrium patterns on the approach to a disease association study in the human MHC class III. Immunogenetics, 58 (5-6), pp. 465-470. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is presently much interest in utilizing patterns of linkage disequilibrium (LD) to further genetic association studies. This is particularly pertinent in the class III region of the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which has been extensively studied as a disease susceptibility locus in a number of ethnic groups. To date, however, few studies of LD in the MHC have considered non-Caucasian populations. With the advent of large-scale haplotyping of the human genome, the question of utilizing LD patterns across populations has come to the fore. We have previously used LD mapping to direct an MHC class III association study in a UK Caucasian population. As an extension of this, we sought to determine to what extent the pattern of LD observed in that study could be used to conduct a similar study in a West African Gambian population. We found that broad patterns of LD were similar in the two populations, resulting in similar candidate region delineations, but at a higher resolution, marker-specific patterns of LD and population-dependent allele frequencies confounded the choice of regional tagging SNPs. Our results have implications for the applicability of large-scale haplotype maps such as the HapMap to complex regions like the MHC.

Fry AE, Trafford CJ, Kimber MA, Chan MS, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP. 2006. Haplotype homozygosity and derived alleles in the human genome. Am J Hum Genet, 78 (6), pp. 1053-1059. | Show Abstract | Read more

Haplotype-based techniques are being used to estimate the relative age of alleles--particularly in screening loci for signals of recent positive selection--but does this approach capture even coarse age differences? Using simulations and empirical data from the International HapMap Project, we show that a simple pairwise metric of haplotype homozygosity gives significantly higher mean values for human single-nucleotide-polymorphism alleles that appear to be derived than for those that appear to be ancestral, as determined by comparison with the chimpanzee genome. Our results support the use of haplotype-based techniques, such as extended haplotypic homozygosity, to assess the age of alleles.

Koch O, Kwiatkowski DP, Udalova IA. 2006. Context-specific functional effects of IFNGR1 promoter polymorphism. Hum Mol Genet, 15 (9), pp. 1475-1481. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report evidence of a polymorphism in the promoter region of IFNGR1 (encoding interferon-gamma receptor 1) that has opposite functional effects in different cellular contexts. It is a deletion/insertion polymorphism that is found in Africans but not Europeans or Asians, and has been associated with resistance to severe malaria. We find that the IFNGR1-470del allele acts to suppress binding of nuclear proteins to the IFNGR1 promoter region in a manner that is specific for cell type. In B-lymphocytes, the IFNGR1-470del allele suppresses the binding of a approximately 35 kDa nuclear protein and acts to increase reporter gene expression. In epithelial cells, the same allele acts to decrease gene expression and suppresses the binding of approximately 90 kDa STAT-1 and STAT-2 proteins. In T-lymphocytes, this allele causes only subtle differences in nuclear protein binding and has no significant effect on gene expression. These findings suggest a mechanism by which a single genetic variant may cause a broad range of phenotypic consequences.

Chokshi DA, Parker M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2006. Data sharing and intellectual property in a genomic epidemiology network: policies for large-scale research collaboration. Bull World Health Organ, 84 (5), pp. 382-387. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genomic epidemiology is a field of research that seeks to improve the prevention and management of common diseases through an understanding of their molecular origins. It involves studying thousands of individuals, often from different populations, with exacting techniques. The scale and complexity of such research has required the formation of research consortia. Members of these consortia need to agree on policies for managing shared resources and handling genetic data. Here we consider data-sharing and intellectual property policies for an international research consortium working on the genomic epidemiology of malaria. We outline specific guidelines governing how samples and data are transferred among its members; how results are released into the public domain; when to seek protection for intellectual property; and how intellectual property should be managed. We outline some pragmatic solutions founded on the basic principles of promoting innovation and access.

Natividad A, Cooke G, Holland MJ, Burton MJ, Joof HM, Rockett K, Kwiatkowski DP, Mabey DC, Bailey RL. 2006. A coding polymorphism in matrix metalloproteinase 9 reduces risk of scarring sequelae of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection. BMC Med Genet, 7 (1), pp. 40. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Trachoma, an infectious disease of the conjunctiva caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, is an important global cause of blindness. A dysregulated extracellular matrix (ECM) proteolysis during the processes of tissue repair following infection and inflammation are thought to play a key role in the development of fibrotic sequelae of infection, which ultimately leads to blindness. Expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), a major effector of ECM turnover, is up-regulated in the inflamed conjunctiva of trachoma subjects. Genetic variation within the MMP9 gene affects in vitro MMP9 expression levels, enzymatic activity and susceptibility to various inflammatory and fibrotic conditions. METHODS: We genotyped 651 case-control pairs from trachoma endemic villages in The Gambia for coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the MMP9 gene using the high-throughput Sequenom system. Single marker and haplotype conditional logistic regression (CLR) analysis for disease association was performed. RESULTS: The Q279R mutation located in exon 6 of MMP9 was found to be associated with lower risk for severe disease sequelae of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection. This mutation, which leads to a nonsynonymous amino-acid change within the active site of the enzyme may reduce MMP-9-induced degradation of the structural components of the ECM during inflammatory episodes in trachoma and its associated fibrosis. CONCLUSION: This work supports the hypothesis that MMP-9 has a role in the pathogenesis of blinding trachoma.

Atkinson SH, Rockett K, Sirugo G, Bejon PA, Fulford A, O'Connell MA, Bailey R, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2006. Seasonal childhood anaemia in West Africa is associated with the haptoglobin 2-2 genotype. PLoS Med, 3 (5), pp. e172. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Anaemia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for children in Africa. The plasma protein haptoglobin (Hp) binds avidly to free haemoglobin released following malaria-induced haemolysis. Haptoglobin polymorphisms result in proteins with altered haemoglobin-binding capacity and different antioxidant, iron-recycling, and immune functions. Previous studies examined the importance of haptoglobin polymorphism in malaria and iron homeostasis, but it is unknown whether haptoglobin genotype might be a risk factor for anaemia in children in a malaria-endemic area. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A cohort of 780 rural Gambian children aged 2-6 y was surveyed at the start and end of the malaria season. Samples were taken to assess haemoglobin (Hb) concentration, iron status (ferritin, zinc protoporphyrin, transferrin saturation, and soluble transferrin receptor concentration), haptoglobin concentration, alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (a measure of inflammation), and malaria parasites on blood film. We extracted DNA and genotyped for haptoglobin, sickle cell, and glucose-6-phosphate (G6PD) deficiency. Mean Hb levels fell over the malaria season. Children with the haptoglobin 2-2 genotype (17%) had a greater mean drop in Hb level over the malaria season (an 8.9 g/l drop; confidence interval [CI] 5.7, 12.1) compared to other children (a 5.1 g/l drop; CI 3.8, 6.4). In multivariate regression analysis, controlling for baseline Hb level, age group, village, malaria parasites on blood film, iron status, haptoglobin concentration, and G6PD deficiency, haptoglobin genotype predicted Hb level at the end of the malaria season (p = 0.0009, coefficient = -4.2). Iron status was not influenced by haptoglobin genotype. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that haptoglobin 2-2 genotype is a risk factor for anaemia in children in a malaria-endemic area may reflect the reduced ability of the Hp2-2 polymer to scavenge free haemoglobin-iron following malaria-induced haemolysis. The magnitude of the effect of haptoglobin genotype (4 g/l Hb difference, p = 0.0009) was comparable to that of G6PD deficiency or HbAS (3 g/l difference, p = 0.03; and 2 g/l difference, p = 0.68, respectively).

Hanchard N, Rockett K, Udalova I, Wilson J, Keating B, Koch O, Nijnik A, Diakite M, Herbert M, Kwiatkowski D. 2006. An investigation of transmission ratio distortion in the central region of the human MHC. Genes Immun, 7 (1), pp. 51-58. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transmission ratio distortion (TRD) describes a significant departure from expected Mendelian inheritance ratios that is fundamental to both the biology of reproduction and statistical genetics. The relatively high fetal wastage in humans, with consequent selection of alleles in utero, makes it likely that TRD is prevalent in the human genome. The central region of the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a strong TRD candidate, as it houses a number of immune and regulatory genes that may be important in pregnancy outcome. We used a nonhaplotype-based method to select 13 tagging SNPs from three central MHC candidate regions, and analysed their transmission in 380 newborns and their parents (1138 individuals). A TRD of 54:46 was noted in favour of the common allele of a promoter SNP in the CLIC1 gene (P = 0.025), with a similar distortion using haplotypes across the same gene region (P = 0.016). We also found evidence that markers in the CLIC1 gene region may have been subject to recent selection (P < 0.001). The study illustrates the potential benefits of screening for TRD and highlights the difficulties encountered therein.

Martin-Peprah R, Bates I, Bedu-Addo G, Kwiatkowski DP. 2006. Investigation of familial segregation of hyperreactive malarial splenomegaly in Kumasi, Ghana. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (1), pp. 68-73. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hyperreactive malarial splenomegaly (HMS), a common cause of massive splenomegaly in malaria-endemic regions, is defined as persistent splenomegaly without demonstrable underlying disease. Previous studies have found HMS more frequently in certain tribes in Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Nigeria, with strong familial associations in Uganda and Papua New Guinea. This case-control study aimed to determine the extent of familial association of splenomegaly and the pattern of segregation of the condition in families in Ghana. It involved 22 HMS cases with 99 relatives, and 15 population controls of similar socio-economic background with 51 relatives. The pedigree of each family was recorded. Clinical and laboratory data were collected on all participants, including the presence and degree of splenomegaly. Relatives with splenomegaly were identified for 27% of HMS cases and for 6.7% of population controls (P=0.04). There were significant differences in the IgM levels, which were higher (P=0.005), and the haemoglobin levels, which were lower (P=0.009), in cases compared with controls. In Ghana, relatives of HMS cases are more likely to have splenomegaly than population controls, but with no obvious pattern of Mendelian segregation. HMS aetiology in Ghana is likely to be complex, involving multiple genetic and environmental factors.

Hanchard NA, Rockett KA, Spencer C, Coop G, Pinder M, Jallow M, Kimber M, McVean G, Mott R, Kwiatkowski DP. 2006. Screening for recently selected alleles by analysis of human haplotype similarity. Am J Hum Genet, 78 (1), pp. 153-159. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is growing interest in the use of haplotype-based methods for detecting recent selection. Here, we describe a method that uses a sliding window to estimate similarity among the haplotypes associated with any given single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) allele. We used simulations of natural selection to provide estimates of the empirical power of the method to detect recently selected alleles and found it to be comparable in power to the popular long-range haplotype test and more powerful than methods based on nucleotide diversity. We then applied the method to a recently selected allele--the sickle mutation at the HBB locus--and found it to have a signal of selection that was significantly stronger than that of simulated models both with and without strong selection. Using this method, we also evaluated >4,000 SNPs on chromosome 20, indicating the applicability of the method to regional data sets.

Luoni G, Forton J, Jallow M, Sadighi Akha E, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M, Hanchard N, Herbert M, Kimber M, Mott R et al. 2005. Population-specific patterns of linkage disequilibrium in the human 5q31 region. Genes Immun, 6 (8), pp. 723-727. | Show Abstract | Read more

Linkage disequilibrium across the human genome is generally lower in West Africans than Europeans. However in the 5q31 region, which is rich in immune genes, we find significantly more examples of apparent nonrecombination between distant marker pairs in West Africans. Much of this effect is due to SNPs that are absent in Europeans, possibly reflecting recent positive selection in the West African population.

Ackerman H, Usen S, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2005. A comparison of case-control and family-based association methods: the example of sickle-cell and malaria. Ann Hum Genet, 69 (Pt 5), pp. 559-565. | Show Abstract | Read more

There has been much debate about the relative merits of population- and family-based strategies for testing genetic association, yet there is little empirical data that directly compare the two approaches. Here we compare case-control and transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) study designs using a well-established genetic association, the protective effect of the sickle-cell trait against severe malaria. We find that the two methods give similar estimates of the level of protection (case-control odds ratio = 0.10, 95% confidence interval 0.03-0.23; family-based estimate of the odds ratio = 0.11, 95% confidence interval 0.04-0.25) and similar statistical significance of the result (case-control: chi2= 41.26, p= 10(-10), TDT: chi2= 39.06, p= 10(-10)) when 315 TDT cases are compared to 583 controls. We propose a family plus population control study design, which allows both case-control and TDT analysis of the cases. This combination is robust against the respective weaknesses of the case-control and TDT study designs, namely population structure and segregation distortion. The combined study design is especially cost-effective when cases are difficult to ascertain and, when the case-control and TDT results agree, offers greater confidence in the result.

Kwiatkowski DP. 2005. How malaria has affected the human genome and what human genetics can teach us about malaria. Am J Hum Genet, 77 (2), pp. 171-192. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a major killer of children worldwide and the strongest known force for evolutionary selection in the recent history of the human genome. The past decade has seen growing evidence of ethnic differences in susceptibility to malaria and of the diverse genetic adaptations to malaria that have arisen in different populations: epidemiological confirmation of the hypotheses that G6PD deficiency, alpha+ thalassemia, and hemoglobin C protect against malaria mortality; the application of novel haplotype-based techniques demonstrating that malaria-protective genes have been subject to recent positive selection; the first genetic linkage maps of resistance to malaria in experimental murine models; and a growing number of reported associations with resistance and susceptibility to human malaria, particularly in genes involved in immunity, inflammation, and cell adhesion. The challenge for the next decade is to build the global epidemiological infrastructure required for statistically robust genomewide association analysis, as a way of discovering novel mechanisms of protective immunity that can be used in the development of an effective malaria vaccine.

Koch O, Rockett K, Jallow M, Pinder M, Sisay-Joof F, Kwiatkowski D. 2005. Investigation of malaria susceptibility determinants in the IFNG/IL26/IL22 genomic region. Genes Immun, 6 (4), pp. 312-318. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interferon-gamma, encoded by IFNG, is a key immunological mediator that is believed to play both a protective and a pathological role in malaria. Here, we investigate the relationship between IFNG variation and susceptibility to malaria. We began by analysing West African and European haplotype structure and patterns of linkage disequilibrium across a 100 kb genomic region encompassing IFNG and its immediate neighbours IL22 and IL26. A large case-control study of severe malaria in a West Africa population identified several weak associations with individual single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the IFNG and IL22 genes, and defined two IL22 haplotypes that are, respectively, associated with resistance and susceptibility. These data provide a starting point for functional and genetic analysis of the IFNG genomic region in malaria and other infectious and inflammatory conditions affecting African populations.

Natividad A, Wilson J, Koch O, Holland MJ, Rockett K, Faal N, Jallow O, Joof HM, Burton MJ, Alexander ND et al. 2005. Risk of trachomatous scarring and trichiasis in Gambians varies with SNP haplotypes at the interferon-gamma and interleukin-10 loci. Genes Immun, 6 (4), pp. 332-340. | Show Abstract | Read more

Experimental evidence implicates interferon gamma (IFNgamma) in protection from and resolution of chlamydial infection. Conversely, interleukin 10 (IL10) is associated with susceptibility and persistence of infection and pathology. We studied genetic variation within the IL10 and IFNgamma loci in relation to the risk of developing severe complications of human ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection. A total of 651 Gambian subjects with scarring trachoma, of whom 307 also had potentially blinding trichiasis and pair-matched controls with normal eyelids, were screened for associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), SNP haplotypes and the risk of disease. MassEXTEND (Sequenom) and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry were used for detection and analysis of SNPs and the programs PHASE and SNPHAP used to infer haplotypes from population genetic data. Multivariate conditional logistic regression analysis identified IL10 and IFNgamma SNP haplotypes associated with increased risk of both trachomatous scarring and trichiasis. SNPs in putative IFNgamma and IL10 regulatory regions lay within the disease-associated haplotypes. The IFNgamma +874A allele, previously linked to lower IFNgamma production, lies in the IFNgamma risk haplotype and was more common among cases than controls, but not significantly so. The promoter IL10-1082G allele, previously associated with high IL10 expression, is in both susceptibility and resistance haplotypes.

Wilson J, Rowlands K, Rockett K, Moore C, Lockhart E, Sharland M, Kwiatkowski D, Hull J. 2005. Genetic variation at the IL10 gene locus is associated with severity of respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis. J Infect Dis, 191 (10), pp. 1705-1709. | Show Abstract | Read more

The intense airway inflammatory response associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection may be an important determinant in the severity of the disease. Interleukin (IL)-10 is a key regulatory cytokine known to be secreted during this infection. We investigated the role that IL-10 plays in RSV disease by studying the effects that variation in the IL10 gene has on the outcome of the disease. Eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the IL10 gene were selected, and haplotypes were constructed. SNPs that efficiently tagged these haplotypes were then typed in 580 infants with severe RSV bronchiolitis and in 580 control subjects. None of the SNPs or haplotypes was associated with RSV bronchiolitis. In a subgroup analysis, 2 SNPs (IL10-1117 and IL10-3585) were associated (odds ratio, 1.7; P=.004) with the need for mechanical ventilation. These data are consistent with the theory that IL10 plays a role in the severity of RSV infection in infants.

Griffiths MJ, Shafi MJ, Popper SJ, Hemingway CA, Kortok MM, Wathen A, Rockett KA, Mott R, Levin M, Newton CR et al. 2005. Genomewide analysis of the host response to malaria in Kenyan children. J Infect Dis, 191 (10), pp. 1599-1611. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a global problem, and there is a critical need for further understanding of the disease process. When malarial parasites invade and develop within the bloodstream, they stimulate a profound host response whose main clinical sign is fever. To explore this response, we measured host gene expression in whole blood from Kenyan children hospitalized with either acute malaria or other febrile illnesses. Genomewide analysis of expression identified 2 principal gene-expression profiles related to neutrophil and erythroid activity. In addition to these general acute responses, a third gene-expression profile was associated with host parasitemia; mediators of erythrophagocytosis and cellular stress were notable components of this response. The delineation of subjects on the basis of patterns of gene expression provides a molecular perspective of the host response to malaria and further functional insight into the underlying processes of pathogenesis.

Kwiatkowski DP. 2005. The complexity of genetic variation in a simple immune system. Trends Genet, 21 (4), pp. 197-199. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fruitflies derived from a wild population vary in their resistance to infection with the bacterial pathogen Serratia marcescens. A survey of nucleotide diversity in 21 genes involved in innate immunity concluded that 16 genes had polymorphisms associated with resistance to this specific pathogen. However, the effects of individual polymorphisms on the resistance phenotype were modest, and epistatic interactions appeared to be common. What might these findings tell us about genetic resistance to infection in humans?

Forton J, Kwiatkowski D, Rockett K, Luoni G, Kimber M, Hull J. 2005. Accuracy of haplotype reconstruction from haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Am J Hum Genet, 76 (3), pp. 438-448. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many investigators are now using haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphism (htSNPs) as a way of screening regions of the genome for association with disease. A common approach is to genotype htSNPs in a study population and to use this information to draw inferences about each individual's haplotypic makeup, including SNPs that were not directly genotyped. To test the validity of this approach, we simulated the exercise of typing htSNPs in a large sample of individuals and compared the true and inferred haplotypes. The accuracy of haplotype inference varied, depending on the method of selecting htSNPs, the linkage-disequilibrium structure of the region, and the amount of missing data. At the stage of selection of htSNPs, haplotype-block-based methods required a larger number of htSNPs than did unstructured methods but gave lower levels of error in haplotype inference, particularly when there was a significant amount of missing data. We present a Web-based utility that allows investigators to compare the likely error rates of different sets of htSNPs and to arrive at an economical set of htSNPs that provides acceptable levels of accuracy in haplotype inference.

Wilson JN, Rockett K, Jallow M, Pinder M, Sisay-Joof F, Newport M, Newton J, Kwiatkowski D. 2005. Analysis of IL10 haplotypic associations with severe malaria. Genes Immun, 6 (6), pp. 462-466. | Show Abstract | Read more

We investigated the association between severe malaria and genetic variation of IL10 in Gambian children, as several lines of evidence indicate that IL10 is protective against severe malaria and that IL10 production is genetically determined. We began by identifying five informative SNPs in the Gambian population that were genotyped in a combined case-control and intrafamilial study including 654 cases of severe malaria, 579 sets of parents and 459 ethnically matched controls. No significant associations were identified with individual SNPs. One haplotype of frequency 0.11 was strongly associated with protection against severe malaria in the case-control analysis (odds ratio 0.52, P=0.00002), but the transmission disequilibrium test in families showed no significant effect. These findings raise the question of whether IL10 associations with severe malaria might be confounded by foetal survival rates or other sources of transmission bias.

Goetghebuer T, Kwiatkowski D, Thomson A, Hull J. 2004. Familial susceptibility to severe respiratory infection in early life. Pediatr Pulmonol, 38 (4), pp. 321-328. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) are common in the first year of life and are mostly caused by viruses. Severity of LRTI in infants is associated with early-life environmental factors. Genetic association studies also suggest a role of heredity in susceptibility to acute bronchiolitis. We designed a case control study to further investigate relative importance of familial influences in risk of LRTI in early childhood compared to environmental factors. From a hospital database, we selected 1,308 children (436 cases; 872 controls) living in Oxfordshire. Cases were children under age 5 years admitted to hospital with LRTI. Parental history and other exposures were recorded in cases and controls by postal questionnaire. Maternal history of asthma increased the risk of severe LRTI in the first year of life, independent of subsequent asthma in a child. History of maternal bronchiolitis also increased the risk of infant LRTI. These results further support the possibility that genetic factors play an important role in susceptibility to severe viral respiratory infections in early life, and suggest that this effect may be independent of subsequent childhood asthma.

Sirugo G, Schim van der Loeff M, Sam O, Nyan O, Pinder M, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski D, Prentice A, de Toma C, Cann HM et al. 2004. A national DNA bank in The Gambia, West Africa, and genomic research in developing countries. Nat Genet, 36 (8), pp. 785-786. | Read more

Newton JL, Harney SM, Timms AE, Sims AM, Rockett K, Darke C, Wordsworth BP, Kwiatkowski D, Brown MA. 2004. Dissection of class III major histocompatibility complex haplotypes associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheum, 50 (7), pp. 2122-2129. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: We have previously identified a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) haplotype involving the lymphotoxin alpha (LTA) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) loci (termed haplotype LTA-TNF2) on chromosome 6 that shows differential association with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on HLA-DRB1*0404 and *0401 haplotypes, suggesting the presence of additional non-HLA-DRB1 RA susceptibility genes on these haplotypes. To refine this association, we performed a case-control association study using both SNPs and microsatellite markers in haplotypes matched either for HLA-DRB1*0404 or for HLA-DRB1*0401. METHODS: Fourteen SNPs lying between HLA-DRB1 and LTA were genotyped in 87 DRB1*04-positive families. High-density microsatellite typing was performed using 24 markers spanning 2,500 kb centered around the TNF gene in 305 DRB1*0401 or *0404 cases and 400 DRB1*0401 or *0404 controls. Single-marker, 2-marker, and 3-marker minihaplotypes were constructed and their frequencies compared between the DRB1*0401 and DRB1*0404 matched case and control haplotypes. RESULTS: Marked preservation of major histocompatibility complex haplotypes was seen, with chromosomes carrying LTA-TNF2 and either DRB1*0401 or DRB1*0404 both carrying an identical SNP haplotype across the 1-Mb region between TNF and HLA-DRB1. Using microsatellite markers, we observed two 3-marker minihaplotypes that were significantly overrepresented in the DRB1*0404 case haplotypes (P = 0.00024 and P = 0.00097). CONCLUSION: The presence of a single extended SNP haplotype between LTA-TNF2 and both DRB1*0401 and DRB1*0404 is evidence against this region harboring the genetic effects in linkage disequilibrium with LTA-TNF2. Two RA-associated haplotypes on the background of DRB1*0404 were identified in a 126-kb region surrounding and centromeric to the TNF locus.

Leisewitz AL, Rockett KA, Gumede B, Jones M, Urban B, Kwiatkowski DP. 2004. Response of the splenic dendritic cell population to malaria infection. Infect Immun, 72 (7), pp. 4233-4239. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dendritic cells, particularly those residing in the spleen, are thought to orchestrate acquired immunity to malaria, but it is not known how the splenic dendritic cell population responds to malaria infection and how this response compares with the responses of other antigen-presenting cells. We investigated this question for Plasmodium chabaudi AS infection in C57BL/6 mice. We found that dendritic cells, defined here by the CD11c marker, migrated from the marginal zone of the spleen into the CD4(+) T-cell area within 5 days after parasites entered the bloodstream. This contrasted with the results observed for the macrophage and B-cell populations, which expanded greatly but did not show any comparable migration. Over the same time period dendritic cells showed upregulation of CD40, CD54, and CD86 costimulatory molecules that are required for successful T-cell activation. In dendritic cells, the peak intracellular gamma interferon expression (as shown by fluorescence-activated cell sorting) was on day 5, 2 days earlier than the peak expression in B-cells or macrophages. These findings show that splenic dendritic cells are actively engaged in the earliest phase of malarial infection in vivo and are likely to be critical in shaping the subsequent immune response.

Hacking D, Knight JC, Rockett K, Brown H, Frampton J, Kwiatkowski DP, Hull J, Udalova IA. 2004. Increased in vivo transcription of an IL-8 haplotype associated with respiratory syncytial virus disease-susceptibility. Genes Immun, 5 (4), pp. 274-282. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interleukin-8 (IL-8) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of RSV-induced bronchiolitis. Previously, we have described an association between bronchiolitis disease severity and a specific IL-8 haplotype comprising six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (-251A/+396G/+781T/+1238delA/+1633T/+2767T, haplotype 2). Here we investigated the functional basis for this association by measuring haplotype-specific transcription in vivo in human primary cells. We found a significant increase in transcript level derived from the IL-8 haplotype 2 relative to the mirror haplotype 1 (-251T/+396T/+781C/+1238insA/+1633C/+2767A) in respiratory epithelial cells but not in lymphocytes. A promoter polymorphism, -251A, present on the high producer haplotype, had no significant affect on the allele-specific level of transcription when analyzed in reporter gene experiments in human respiratory epithelial A549 cells. We proceeded to systematically screen for allele-specific protein-DNA binding in this functional haplotype, which revealed significant differential binding at the +781T/C polymorphism. C/EBP beta was identified as being part of a transcription factor binding complex that preferentially bound in the presence of the +781 T allele. These results suggest that the mechanism for disease susceptibility to RSV-induced bronchiolitis may occur through a haplotype-specific increase in IL-8 transcription, which may be mediated by functional polymorphisms within that haplotype.

Goetghebuer T, Isles K, Moore C, Thomson A, Kwiatkowski D, Hull J. 2004. Genetic predisposition to wheeze following respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis. Clin Exp Allergy, 34 (5), pp. 801-803. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The nature of the association between severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and subsequent wheezing remains unknown. In a previous study, we showed that genetic variation in the IL-8-promoter region is associated with susceptibility to severe bronchiolitis. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the association between wheezing post-bronchiolitis and the genetic variant of IL-8 gene. METHODS: We collected data from 134 children who had suffered from bronchiolitis, enrolled in our previous study. The occurrence of wheezing post-bronchiolitis was recorded from a questionnaire sent by post. The association between the genotype and wheezing phenotype was assessed by family-based and case-control approaches. RESULTS: Family-based association showed that the IL-8 variant was transmitted significantly more often than expected in the children who wheezed after the episode of bronchiolitis (transmission=56%, P=0.02). This effect was not observed in the group of children who had bronchiolitis but did not go on to wheeze. Moreover, the variant was significantly more frequent in post-bronchiolitis wheezers compared with the general population (odds ratio=1.6, 95% confidence interval 1.0-2.6). CONCLUSION: These preliminary results suggest that there is a genetic predisposition to wheeze following severe RSV bronchiolitis.

Burgner D, D'Amato M, Kwiatkowski DP, Loakes D. 2004. Improved allelic differentiation using sequence-specific oligonucleotide hybridization incorporating an additional base-analogue mismatch. Nucleosides Nucleotides Nucleic Acids, 23 (5), pp. 755-765. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sequence-specific oligonucleotide hybridization (SSOH, 'dot-blotting') is a widely employed method of typing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but it is often compromised by lack of allelic differentiation. We describe a novel improvement to SSOH that incorporates an additional mismatch into the oligonucleotide probe using the universal base analogue 3-nitropyrrole. This method greatly increases allelic differentiation compared to standard SSOH where oligonucleotides contain only SNP-defining base changes. Moreover, stringency of the hybridisation is predictably maintained over a wide range of temperatures, which can be calculated empirically, thus facilitating the genotyping of multiple SNPs using similar conditions. This improved method increases the usefulness of hybridisation-based methods of rapid genotyping of SNPs and may have implications for array methodologies.

Knight JC, Keating BJ, Kwiatkowski DP. 2004. Allele-specific repression of lymphotoxin-alpha by activated B cell factor-1. Nat Genet, 36 (4), pp. 394-399. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genetic variation at the human LTA locus, encoding lymphotoxin-alpha, is associated with susceptibility to myocardial infarction, asthma and other diseases. By detailed haplotypic analysis of the locus, we identified a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at LTA+80 as a main predictor of LTA protein production by human B cells. We found that activated B-cell factor-1 (ABF-1) binds to this site in vitro and suppresses reporter gene expression, but only in the presence of the LTA+80A allele. Using haplotype-specific chromatin immunoprecipitation, we confirmed that ABF-1 is preferentially recruited to the low-producer allele in vivo. These findings provide a molecular model of how LTA expression may be genetically regulated by allele-specific recruitment of the transcriptional repressor ABF-1.

Awomoyi AA, Nejentsev S, Richardson A, Hull J, Koch O, Podinovskaia M, Todd JA, McAdam KP, Blackwell JM, Kwiatkowski D, Newport MJ. 2004. No association between interferon-gamma receptor-1 gene polymorphism and pulmonary tuberculosis in a Gambian population sample. Thorax, 59 (4), pp. 291-294. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is a major global cause of mortality and morbidity, and host genetic factors influence disease susceptibility. Interferon-gamma mediates immunity to mycobacteria and rare mutations in the interferon-gamma receptor-1 gene (IFNGR1) result in increased susceptibility to mycobacterial infection, including TB, in affected families. The role of genetic variation in IFNGR1 in susceptibility to common mycobacterial diseases such as pulmonary TB in outbred populations has not previously been investigated. METHODS: The association between IFNGR1 and susceptibility to pulmonary TB was investigated in a Gambian adult population sample using a case-control study design. The coding and promoter regions of IFNGR1 were sequenced in 32 patients with pulmonary TB, and the frequencies of six common IFNGR1 polymorphisms were determined using PCR based methods in 320 smear positive TB cases and 320 matched controls. Haplotypes were estimated from the genotype data using the expectation-maximisation algorithm. RESULTS: There was no association between the IFNGR1 variants studied and TB in this Gambian population sample. Three common haplotypes were identified within the study population, none of which was associated with TB. CONCLUSIONS: These data represent an important negative finding and suggest that, while IFNGR1 is implicated in rare Mendelian susceptibility to mycobacterial disease, the common variants studied here do not have a major influence on susceptibility to pulmonary TB in The Gambian population.

Burgner D, Usen S, Rockett K, Jallow M, Ackerman H, Cervino A, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2004. Nucleotide and haplotypic diversity of the NOS2A promoter region and its relationship to cerebral malaria (vol 112, pg 379, 2003) HUMAN GENETICS, 114 (4), pp. 401-401. | Read more

Hull J, Rowlands K, Lockhart E, Sharland M, Moore C, Hanchard N, Kwiatkowski DP. 2004. Haplotype mapping of the bronchiolitis susceptibility locus near IL8. Hum Genet, 114 (3), pp. 272-279. | Show Abstract | Read more

Susceptibility to viral bronchiolitis, the commonest cause of infant admissions to hospital in the industrialised world, is associated with polymorphism at the IL8 locus. Here we map the genomic boundaries of the disease association by case-control analysis and TDT in 580 affected UK infants. Markers for association mapping were chosen after determining patterns of linkage disequilibrium across the surrounding region of chromosome 4q, a 550-kb segment containing nine genes, extending from AFP to PPBP. The region has three major clusters of high linkage disequilibrium and is notable for its low haplotypic diversity. We exclude adjacent chemokine genes as the cause of the association, and identify a disease-associated haplotype that spans a 250-kb region from AFM to IL8. In between these two genes there is only one structural feature of interest, a novel gene RASSF6, which is predicted to encode a Ras effector protein.

Walley AJ, Aucan C, Kwiatkowski D, Hill AV. 2004. Interleukin-1 gene cluster polymorphisms and susceptibility to clinical malaria in a Gambian case-control study. Eur J Hum Genet, 12 (2), pp. 132-138. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interleukin-1 (IL1) is a potent endogenous pyrogen and inducer of the acute phase response, and these innate immune responses are an important part of the human host's initial reaction to infection by the malaria parasite. In addition, several single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this region have previously been demonstrated to be associated with susceptibility to infectious disease. Therefore, a possible association with malaria susceptibility was investigated. A total of 13 polymorphic markers were used in a two-stage screening strategy to genotype a Gambian case-control study group by either restriction endonuclease digestion or the Sequenom MassARRAY assay. This involved an initial screen of 188 severe cases and 188 mild controls, and if there was a significant association with a malaria phenotype (P<0.05); this was followed by screening of the remaining 1044 samples. Two markers showed significant association with malaria: interleukin-1 alpha +4845 G --> T (P=0.035 for mild malaria versus controls) and interleukin-1 beta +3953 C --> T (P=0.030 for mild malaria versus severe malaria). Haplotypes constructed using the SNPHAP programme were not associated with any of the malaria phenotypes investigated. In summary, if IL1 variants are involved in malaria susceptibility in the Gambia at all, then the effects are small.

Burgner D, Usen S, Rockett K, Jallow M, Ackerman H, Cervino A, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2004. Nucleotide and haplotypic diversity of the NOS2A promoter region and its relationship to cerebral malaria Human Genetics, 114 (4), pp. 401-401. | Read more

Linnell J, Mott R, Field S, Kwiatkowski DP, Ragoussis J, Udalova IA. 2004. Quantitative high-throughput analysis of transcription factor binding specificities. Nucleic Acids Res, 32 (4), pp. e44. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present a general high-throughput approach to accurately quantify DNA-protein interactions, which can facilitate the identification of functional genetic polymorphisms. The method tested here on two structurally distinct transcription factors (TFs), NF-kappaB and OCT-1, comprises three steps: (i) optimized selection of DNA variants to be tested experimentally, which we show is superior to selecting variants at random; (ii) a quantitative protein-DNA binding assay using microarray and surface plasmon resonance technologies; (iii) prediction of binding affinity for all DNA variants in the consensus space using a statistical model based on principal coordinates analysis. For the protein-DNA binding assay, we identified a polyacrylamide/ester glass activation chemistry which formed exclusive covalent bonds with 5'-amino-modified DNA duplexes and hindered non-specific electrostatic attachment of DNA. Full accessibility of the DNA duplexes attached to polyacrylamide-modified slides was confirmed by the high degree of data correlation with the electromobility shift assay (correlation coefficient 93%). This approach offers the potential for high-throughput determination of TF binding profiles and predicting the effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms on TF binding affinity. New DNA binding data for OCT-1 are presented.

Cooke GS, Aucan C, Walley AJ, Segal S, Greenwood BM, Kwiatkowski DP, Hill AV. 2003. Association of Fcgamma receptor IIa (CD32) polymorphism with severe malaria in West Africa. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 69 (6), pp. 565-568. | Show Abstract

Malaria continues to claim the lives of more children worldwide than any other infectious disease, and improved understanding of disease immunology is a priority for the development of new therapeutic and vaccination strategies. FcgammaRIIa (CD32) contains a polymorphic variant (H/R131) that has been associated with variability in susceptibility to both bacterial diseases and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia. We investigated the role of this polymorphism in West Africans with mild and severe malarial disease. The HH131 genotype was significantly associated with susceptibility to severe malaria (P = 0.03, odds ratio = 1.40, 95% confidence interval = 1.02-1.91). In contrast to studies of parasitemia, the presence of the R131 allele, rather than the RR131 genotype, appeared to be the important factor in protection from disease. This is the first evidence for an association between CD32 polymorphism and severe malaria and provides an example of balancing selective pressures from different infectious diseases operating at the same genetic locus.

Ackerman HC, Ribas G, Jallow M, Mott R, Neville M, Sisay-Joof F, Pinder M, Campbell RD, Kwiatkowski DP. 2003. Complex haplotypic structure of the central MHC region flanking TNF in a West African population. Genes Immun, 4 (7), pp. 476-486. | Show Abstract | Read more

TNF polymorphisms have been associated with susceptibility to malaria and other infectious and inflammatory conditions. We investigated a sample of 150 West African chromosomes to determine linkage disequilibrium (LD) between 25 SNP markers located in an 80 kb segment of the MHC Class III region encompassing TNF and eight neighbouring genes. We observed 45 haplotypes, and 22 of them comprise 80% of the sample. The pattern of LD is remarkably patchy, such that many markers show no LD with adjacent markers but high LD with markers that are much further away. We introduce a method of examining the implications of LD data for disease association studies based on sample size considerations: this shows that certain TNF polymorphisms would be likely to yield positive associations if the true disease allele resided in LTA or BAT1. We conclude that detailed marker maps are needed to resolve the causal origin of disease associations observed at the TNF locus.

Burgner D, Rockett K, Ackerman H, Hull J, Usen S, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2003. Haplotypic relationship between SNP and microsatellite markers at the NOS2A locus in two populations. Genes Immun, 4 (7), pp. 506-514. | Show Abstract | Read more

The density of genetic markers required for successful association mapping of complex diseases depends on linkage disequilibrium (LD) between non-functional markers and functional variants. The haplotypic relationship between stable markers and potentially unstable but highly informative markers (e.g. microsatellites) indicates that LD might be maintained over considerable genetic distance in non-African populations, supporting the use of such 'mixed marker haplotypes' in LD-based mapping, and allowing inferences to be drawn about human origins. We investigated sequence variation in the proximal 2.6 kb of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS2A) promoter and the relationship between SNP haplotypes and a pentanucleotide microsatellite (the 'NOS2A(-2.6) microsatellite') in Gambians and UK Caucasians. UK Caucasians exhibited a subset of sequence diversity observed in Gambians, sharing four of 11 SNPs and a similar haplotypic structure. Five SNPs were found in the sequence of interspersed repetitive DNA elements. In both populations, there was dramatic loss of LD between SNP haplotypes and microsatellite alleles across a very short physical distance, suggesting a high intrinsic mutation rate of the NOS2A(-2.6) microsatellite, the SNP haplotypes are relatively ancient, or that this was a region of frequent recombination. Understanding locus- and population-specific LD is essential when designing and interpreting genetic association studies.

Hull J, Rowlands K, Lockhart E, Moore C, Sharland M, Kwiatkowski D. 2003. Variants of the chemokine receptor CCR5 are associated with severe bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus. J Infect Dis, 188 (6), pp. 904-907. | Show Abstract | Read more

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis is characterized by intense inflammation of the airways, and high levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines can be found in respiratory secretions of affected infants. Important among these chemokines are RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T cell-expressed and -secreted) and macrophage inflammatory-protein alpha, MIP-1alpha, both of which show correlation with severe RSV bronchiolitis. It is not clear whether high levels of these chemokines are important in disease pathogenesis, and this study addresses this question by studying genetic variants of their major receptor, CC chemokine receptor 5. Results from both a case-control and family-based genetic-association analysis show that the -2459G and -2554T variants are associated with severe RSV bronchiolitis (P=.01). It is proposed that these CCR5 variants influence the inflammatory response, and these data provide further evidence of the important role that host genetic variability plays in the determination of disease severity in RSV bronchiolitis.

Aucan C, Walley AJ, Hennig BJ, Fitness J, Frodsham A, Zhang L, Kwiatkowski D, Hill AV. 2003. Interferon-alpha receptor-1 (IFNAR1) variants are associated with protection against cerebral malaria in the Gambia. Genes Immun, 4 (4), pp. 275-282. | Show Abstract | Read more

The chromosome 21q22.11 cytokine receptor cluster contains four genes that encode subunits of the receptors for the cytokines interleukin-10 and interferon-alpha, -beta and -gamma that may have a role in malaria pathogenesis. A total of 15 polymorphic markers located within these genes were initially genotyped in 190 controls and 190 severe malaria cases from The Gambia. Two interferon-alpha receptor-1 (IFNAR1) gene SNPs (17470 and L168 V) showed evidence for an association with severe malaria phenotypes and were typed in a larger series of samples comprising 538 severe malaria cases, 338 mild malaria cases and 562 controls. Both the 17470-G/G and L168V-G/G genotypes were associated with protection against severe malaria, in general, and cerebral malaria, in particular (P=0.004 and 0.003, respectively). IFNAR1 diplotypes were then constructed for these two markers using the PHASE software package. The (17470-G L168V-G/17470-G L168V-G) diplotype was found to be associated with a reduced risk of cerebral malaria and the (17470-C L168V-C/17470-G L168V-G) diplotype with an increased risk of cerebral malaria (overall 3 x 2 chi(2)=12.8, d.f.=2, P=0.002 and 3 x 2 chi(2)=15.2, d.f.=2, P=0.0005, respectively). These data suggest a role for the type I interferon pathway in resistance to cerebral malaria.

Knight JC, Keating BJ, Rockett KA, Kwiatkowski DP. 2003. In vivo characterization of regulatory polymorphisms by allele-specific quantification of RNA polymerase loading. Nat Genet, 33 (4), pp. 469-475. | Show Abstract | Read more

In vivo characterization of regulatory polymorphisms is a key requirement for next-generation human genetic analysis. Here we describe haploChIP, a method that uses chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and mass spectrometry to identify differential protein-DNA binding in vivo associated with allelic variants of a gene. We demonstrate this approach with the imprinted gene SNRPN. HaploChIP showed close correlation between the level of bound phosphorylated RNA polymerase II at the SNRPN locus and allele-specific expression. Application of the approach to the TNF/LTA locus identified functionally important haplotypes that correlate with allele-specific transcription of LTA. The haploChIP method may be useful in high-throughput screening for common DNA polymorphisms that affect gene regulation in vivo.

Burgner D, Usen S, Rockett K, Jallow M, Ackerman H, Cervino A, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2003. Nucleotide and haplotypic diversity of the NOS2A promoter region and its relationship to cerebral malaria. Hum Genet, 112 (4), pp. 379-386. | Show Abstract | Read more

To assess the hypothesis that nitric oxide is critical in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria, we analysed genetic variation in the proximal promoter region of NOS2A, the gene encoding inducible nitric oxide synthase. Sequencing 72 Gambian chromosomes revealed 11 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 2.5 kB (theta=8.6 x 10(-4)). Genotyping 104 nuclear families identified six common haplotypes. A single haplotype, uniquely defined by the NOS2A-1659T allele, was associated with cerebral malaria by a transmission disequilibrium test of 334 affected children and their parents (P=0.02). An independent case-control study of 505 different children from the same population replicated the allelic association with cerebral malaria (odds ratio: 1.31, P=0.04). Taken together these data indicate a weak but significant association of the NOS2A locus with susceptibility to cerebral malaria. Despite high linkage disequilibrium across the region studied, this association would not have been detected without the initial construction of a dense marker set for haplotype tagging.

Nijnik A, Mott R, Kwiatkowski DP, Udalova IA. 2003. Comparing the fine specificity of DNA binding by NF-kappaB p50 and p52 using principal coordinates analysis. Nucleic Acids Res, 31 (5), pp. 1497-1501. | Show Abstract | Read more

Principal coordinates analysis has been proposed as an efficient way of predicting the binding affinity of a transcription factor to different DNA motifs, as it can model complex interactions that are difficult to represent with standard position-weight matrices. Here we evaluate its ability to distinguish the DNA binding properties of two closely related proteins, the homodimeric forms of NF-kappaB p50 and p52. When tested experimentally against 50 different variants of the generalised NF-kappaB motif GGRRNNYYCC, the binding specificities of p50 and p52 were similar but not identical (correlation rho = 0.86). These experimental data can be modelled accurately with six principal coordinates that are similar for p50 and p52, plus one principal coordinate that is significantly stronger for p52 than for p50, relating to the inner positions of the binding site. These findings are compatible with crystallographic data showing that p52 has greater ability than p50 to form water molecule-mediated hydrogen bonds with inner nucleotide positions of the binding site.

Ackerman H, Usen S, Mott R, Richardson A, Sisay-Joof F, Katundu P, Taylor T, Ward R, Molyneux M, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski DP. 2003. Haplotypic analysis of the TNF locus by association efficiency and entropy. Genome Biol, 4 (4), pp. R24. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To understand the causal basis of TNF associations with disease, it is necessary to understand the haplotypic structure of this locus. We genotyped 12 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distributed over 4.3 kilobases in 296 healthy, unrelated Gambian and Malawian adults. We generated 592 high-quality haplotypes by integrating family- and population-based reconstruction methods. RESULTS: We found 32 different haplotypes, of which 13 were shared between the two populations. Both populations were haplotypically diverse (gene diversity = 0.80, Gambia; 0.85, Malawi) and significantly differentiated (p < 10-5 by exact test). More than a quarter of marker pairs showed evidence of intragenic recombination (29% Gambia; 27% Malawi). We applied two new methods of analyzing haplotypic data: association efficiency analysis (AEA), which describes the ability of each SNP to detect every other SNP in a case-control scenario; and the entropy maximization method (EMM), which selects the subset of SNPs that most effectively dissects the underlying haplotypic structure. AEA revealed that many SNPs in TNF are poor markers of each other. The EMM showed that 8 of 12 SNPs (Gambia) and 7 of 12 SNPs (Malawi) are required to describe 95% of the haplotypic diversity. CONCLUSIONS: The TNF locus in the Gambian and Malawi sample is haplotypically diverse and has a rich history of intragenic recombination. As a consequence, a large proportion of TNF SNPs must be typed to detect a disease-modifying SNP at this locus. The most informative subset of SNPs to genotype differs between the two populations.

Newton J, Brown MA, Milicic A, Ackerman H, Darke C, Wilson JN, Wordsworth BP, Kwiatkowski D. 2003. The effect of HLA-DR on susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis is influenced by the associated lymphotoxin alpha-tumor necrosis factor haplotype. Arthritis Rheum, 48 (1), pp. 90-96. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: HLA-DRB1, a major genetic determinant of susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is located within 1,000 kb of the gene encoding tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Because certain HLA-DRB1*04 subtypes increase susceptibility to RA, investigation of the role of the TNF gene is complicated by linkage disequilibrium (LD) between TNF and DRB1 alleles. By adequately controlling for this LD, we aimed to investigate the presence of additional major histocompatibility complex (MHC) susceptibility genes. METHODS: We identified 274 HLA-DRB1*04-positive cases of RA and 271 HLA-DRB1*04-positive population controls. Each subject was typed for 6 single-nucleotide polymorphisms within a 4.5-kb region encompassing TNF and lymphotoxin alpha (LTA). LTA-TNF haplotypes in these unrelated individuals were determined using a combination of family data and the PHASE software program. RESULTS: Significant differences in LTA-TNF haplotype frequencies were observed between different subtypes of HLA-DRB1*04. The LTA-TNF haplotypes observed were very restricted, with only 4 haplotypes constituting 81% of all haplotypes present. Among individuals carrying DRB1*0401, the LTA-TNF 2 haplotype was significantly underrepresented in cases compared with controls (odds ratio 0.5 [95% confidence interval 0.3-0.8], P = 0.007), while in those with DRB1*0404, the opposite effect was observed (P = 0.007). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that the MHC contains genetic elements outside the LTA-TNF region that modify the effect of HLA-DRB1 on susceptibility to RA.

Sabeti PC, Reich DE, Higgins JM, Levine HZ, Richter DJ, Schaffner SF, Gabriel SB, Platko JV, Patterson NJ, McDonald GJ et al. 2002. Detecting recent positive selection in the human genome from haplotype structure. Nature, 419 (6909), pp. 832-837. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ability to detect recent natural selection in the human population would have profound implications for the study of human history and for medicine. Here, we introduce a framework for detecting the genetic imprint of recent positive selection by analysing long-range haplotypes in human populations. We first identify haplotypes at a locus of interest (core haplotypes). We then assess the age of each core haplotype by the decay of its association to alleles at various distances from the locus, as measured by extended haplotype homozygosity (EHH). Core haplotypes that have unusually high EHH and a high population frequency indicate the presence of a mutation that rose to prominence in the human gene pool faster than expected under neutral evolution. We applied this approach to investigate selection at two genes carrying common variants implicated in resistance to malaria: G6PD and CD40 ligand. At both loci, the core haplotypes carrying the proposed protective mutation stand out and show significant evidence of selection. More generally, the method could be used to scan the entire genome for evidence of recent positive selection.

Sabeti P, Usen S, Farhadian S, Jallow M, Doherty T, Newport M, Pinder M, Ward R, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. CD40L association with protection from severe malaria. Genes Immun, 3 (5), pp. 286-291. | Show Abstract | Read more

CD40 ligand (CD40L), a glycoprotein involved in B cell proliferation, antigen presenting cell activation, and Ig class switching, is important in the immune response to infection. Rare coding mutations in CD40L can lead to life-threatening immunodeficiency but the potential for common variants to alter disease susceptibility remains to be explored. To identify polymorphisms in CD40L, we sequenced 2.3 kb of the 5' flanking region and the first exon of the gene in DNA samples from 36 Gambian females and one chimpanzee. Diversity was lower than the average reported for other areas of the X chromosome, and only two polymorphisms were identified. The polymorphisms were genotyped in DNA samples from 957 Gambian individuals, cases and controls from a study of severe malaria. A significant reduction in risk for severe malaria (OR = 0.52, P = 0.002) was associated with males hemizygous for the CD40L-726C. Analysis by transmission disequilibrium test of 371 cases, for whom DNA from both parents was also available, confirmed the result was not due to stratification (P = 0.04). A similar but non-significant trend was found in females. This preliminary association of a common variant in CD40L with a malaria resistance phenotype encourages further genetic characterization of the role of CD40L in infectious disease.

Gravenor MB, Lloyd AL, Kremsner PG, Missinou MA, English M, Marsh K, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. A model for estimating total parasite load in falciparum malaria patients. J Theor Biol, 217 (2), pp. 137-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe an age-structured mathematical model of the malaria parasite life cycle that uses clinical observations of peripheral parasitaemia to estimate population dynamics of sequestered parasites, which are hidden from the clinical investigator. First, the model was tested on parasite populations cultured in vitro, and was found to account for approximately 72% of the variation in that sub-population of parasites that would have been sequestered in vivo. Next, the model was applied to patients undergoing antimalarial therapy. Using individual data sets we found that although the model fitted the peripheral parasite curves very well, unique solutions for the fit could not be obtained; therefore, robust estimates of sequestered parasite dynamics remained unavailable. We conclude that even given detailed data on individual parasitaemia, estimates of sequestered numbers may be difficult to obtain. However, if data on individuals undergoing similar therapy are collected at equal time intervals, some of these problems may be overcome by estimating specific parameters over groups of patients. In this manner we estimated sequestered parasite density in a group of patients sampled at identical time points following antimalarial treatment. Using this approach we found significant relationships between changes in parasite density, age structure and temperature that were not apparent from the analysis of peripheral parasitaemia only.

Udalova IA, Richardson A, Ackerman H, Wordsworth P, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Association of accelerated erosive rheumatoid arthritis with a polymorphism that alters NF-kappaB binding to the TNF promoter region. Rheumatology (Oxford), 41 (7), pp. 830-831. | Read more

Udalova IA, Mott R, Field D, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Quantitative prediction of NF-kappa B DNA-protein interactions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 99 (12), pp. 8167-8172. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe a general method based on principal coordinates analysis to predict the effects of single-nucleotide polymorphisms within regulatory sequences on DNA-protein interactions. We use binding data for the transcription factor NF-kappaB as a test system. The method incorporates the effects of interactions between base pair positions in the binding site, and we demonstrate that such interactions are present for NF-kappaB. Prediction accuracy is higher than with profile models, confirmed by crossvalidation and by the experimental verification of our predictions for additional sequences. The binding affinities of all potential NF-kappaB sites on human chromosome 22, together with the effects of known single-nucleotide polymorphisms, are calculated to determine likely functional variants. We propose that this approach may be valuable, either on its own or in combination with other methods, when standard profile models are disadvantaged by complex internucleotide interactions.

Ackerman H, Udalova I, Hull J, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Evolution of a polymorphic regulatory element in interferon-gamma through transposition and mutation. Mol Biol Evol, 19 (6), pp. 884-890. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mammalian transposable elements have intrinsic regulatory elements that can activate neighboring genes, and it is speculated that they can also carry extrinsic transactivating DNA sequences to new genomic locations. We have identified a polymorphic segment of the human interferon-gamma promoter region where two adjacent binding sites for NF-kappaB and NFAT originated from the insertion of an Alu element approximately 22-34 MYA. Both binding sites lie outside the Alu consensus sequence but within the boundaries of the insertion, suggesting that this segment of DNA was comobilized when the Alu element moved from another part of the genome. Sequence comparisons and examination of DNA-protein interactions across nine different primate species indicate that the inserted sequence contained the intact NFAT binding site, whereas the ability to bind NF-kappaB evolved through a series of mutations after the insertion. These observations are consistent with the notion that retropseudogenes can comobilize intact regulatory sequences to new locations and thereby influence the evolution of gene regulatory networks; however, the extent to which such events have shaped the evolution of gene regulation remains unknown.

Koch O, Awomoyi A, Usen S, Jallow M, Richardson A, Hull J, Pinder M, Newport M, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. IFNGR1 gene promoter polymorphisms and susceptibility to cerebral malaria. J Infect Dis, 185 (11), pp. 1684-1687. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interferon (IFN)-gamma is a critical mediator of immunity to malaria. This study explored the relationship between polymorphisms in the promoter region of the gene encoding IFN-gamma receptor 1 (IFNGR1) and susceptibility to malaria in African children. Four polymorphisms were found in the region between -1400 and +100 nt of the translational start site by sequencing, and analysis of 562 nuclear families revealed 6 haplotypes. Case-control analysis of 562 Gambian children with severe malaria and 569 umbilical cord blood samples (controls) showed that in Mandinka, the major Gambian ethnic group, heterozygotes for the IFNGR1-56 polymorphism were protected against cerebral malaria (odds ratio, 0.54; P=.016) and against death resulting from cerebral malaria (odds ratio, 0.22; P=.006). Analysis of a family study by transmission disequilibrium testing revealed a similar result. Further data are needed to validate this finding, but these results are reminiscent of those for other well-established heterozygote advantages, such as that associated with hemoglobin S.

Denys A, Udalova IA, Smith C, Williams LM, Ciesielski CJ, Campbell J, Andrews C, Kwaitkowski D, Foxwell BM. 2002. Evidence for a dual mechanism for IL-10 suppression of TNF-alpha production that does not involve inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase or NF-kappa B in primary human macrophages. J Immunol, 168 (10), pp. 4837-4845. | Show Abstract

IL-10 is a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine and inhibitor of TNF-alpha production. The molecular pathways by which IL-10 inhibits TNF-alpha production are obscure, with diverse mechanisms having been published. In this study, a new approach has been taken for the study of human cells. Adenovirus was used to deliver TNF-alpha promoter-based luciferase reporter genes to primary human monocytic cells. The reporter genes were highly responsive to macrophage activation and appeared to mirror the behavior of the endogenous TNF-alpha gene. When added, either with or after the stimulus, IL-10 required the 3' untranslated region of the TNF-alpha gene to inhibit luciferase mRNA and protein expression, indicating a posttranscriptional mechanism. However, if macrophages were incubated with IL-10 before activation, inhibition of gene expression was also mediated by the 5' promoter, suggesting a transcriptional mechanism. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a dual mechanism for IL-10 function has been demonstrated. Studies to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the inhibition of TNF-alpha production addressed the effect of IL-10 on the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and NF-kappaB. However, these studies could demonstrate no requirement for the inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase or NF-kappaB activation as potential mechanisms. Overall, these results may explain the diversity previously ascribed to the complex mechanisms of IL-10 anti-inflammatory activity.

van Heel DA, Udalova IA, De Silva AP, McGovern DP, Kinouchi Y, Hull J, Lench NJ, Cardon LR, Carey AH, Jewell DP, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with a TNF polymorphism that affects an interaction between the OCT1 and NF(-kappa)B transcription factors. Hum Mol Genet, 11 (11), pp. 1281-1289. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) expression is increased in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and TNF maps to the IBD3 susceptibility locus. Transmission disequilibrium and case-control analyses, in two independent Caucasian cohorts, showed a novel association of the TNF(-857C) promoter polymorphism with IBD (overall P=0.001 in 587 IBD families). Further genetic associations of TNF(-857C) with IBD sub-phenotypes were seen for ulcerative colitis and for Crohn's disease, but only in patients not carrying common NOD2 mutations. The genetic data suggest a recessive model of inheritance, and we observed ex vivo lipopolysaccharide-stimulated whole-blood TNF production to be higher in healthy TNF(-857C) homozygotes. We show the transcription factor OCT1 binds TNF(-857T) but not TNF(-857C), and interacts in vitro and in vivo with the pro-inflammatory NF(-kappa)B transcription factor p65 subunit at an adjacent binding site. Detailed functional analyses of these interactions in gut macrophages, in addition to further genetic mapping of this gene-dense region, will be critical to understand the significance of the observed association of TNF(-857C) with IBD.

Hacking D, Rockett K, Hull J, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Synergistic action of cytokines and purified respiratory syncytial virus in nitric oxide induction. J Leukoc Biol, 71 (4), pp. 729-730.

Vidal V, Cutler S, Scragg IG, Wright DJ, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Characterisation of silent and active genes for a variable large protein of Borrelia recurrentis. BMC Infect Dis, 2 (1), pp. 25. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: We report the characterisation of the variable large protein (vlp) gene expressed by clinical isolate A1 of Borrelia recurrentis; the agent of the life-threatening disease louse-borne relapsing fever. METHODS: The major vlp protein of this isolate was characterised and a DNA probe created. Use of this together with standard molecular methods was used to determine the location of the vlp1B. recurrentis A1 gene in both this and other isolates. RESULTS: This isolate was found to carry silent and expressed copies of the vlp1B. recurrentis A1 gene on plasmids of 54 kbp and 24 kbp respectively, whereas a different isolate, A17, had only the silent vlp1B. recurrentis A17 on a 54 kbp plasmid. Silent and expressed vlp1 have identical mature protein coding regions but have different 5' regions, both containing different potential lipoprotein leader sequences. Only one form of vlp1 is transcribed in the A1 isolate of B. recurrentis, yet both 5' upstream sequences of this vlp1 gene possess features of bacterial promoters. CONCLUSION: Taken together these results suggest that antigenic variation in B. recurrentis may result from recombination of variable large and small protein genes at the junction between lipoprotein leader sequence and mature protein coding region. However, this hypothetical model needs to be validated by further identification of expressed and silent variant protein genes in other B. recurrentis isolates.

Weatherall DJ, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. Hematologic disorders of children in developing countries. Pediatr Clin North Am, 49 (6), pp. 1149-1164. | Show Abstract | Read more

This article outlines a few of the hematologic problems that are particular to developing countries, particularly those of the tropics. Because of globalization and the increasing movement of populations, hematologists in wealthier countries must be aware of the general patterns of hematologic change in the important infectious diseases that are common in developing countries. Their manifestations are protean, and any of these diseases, malaria in particular, may present in ways that are atypical from the standard textbook descriptions. In short, the handling of hematologic disorders in developing or tropical countries is no longer confined to the physicians who work in these countries; these diseases are now part of the work of every hematologist.

Zeggini E, Thomson W, Kwiatkowski D, Richardson A, Ollier W, Donn R, British Paediatric Rheumatology Study Group. 2002. Linkage and association studies of single-nucleotide polymorphism-tagged tumor necrosis factor haplotypes in juvenile oligoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum, 46 (12), pp. 3304-3311. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: The presence of increased levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in serum and synovial fluid of patients and the encouraging outcome of anti-TNF therapy have implicated TNFalpha in the etiopathogenesis of juvenile oligoarthritis. Although the locus is polymorphic, no study has investigated all TNF single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with respect to disease. The aim of this study was to examine the association of multiple TNF SNPs with juvenile oligoarthritis and to construct and analyze SNP-tagged TNF haplotypes. METHODS: A total of 144 simplex families consisting of parent and affected child, as well as 88 healthy, unrelated control subjects were available for study. In these individuals, 9 polymorphic positions of TNF were typed by a high-throughput genotyping method based on the SNaPshot assay. The chi-square and extended transmission disequilibrium tests were used to test for association and linkage, respectively. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were also calculated. Haplotype-tagging SNPs (htSNPs) for the locus were identified by ordering the haplotypes according to their frequencies. RESULTS: The study detected association of several TNF SNPs and established linkage of the locus to juvenile oligoarthritis. The most significant association observed was between the intronic +851 TNF SNP and the persistent oligoarthritis subgroup (OR 3.86, 95% CI 1.6-9.2). Haplotype data mining showed that only 4 of the 9 SNPs need to be typed in order to capture the most frequent TNF haplotypes. CONCLUSION: The TNF locus is linked and associated with juvenile oligoarthritis. Information on the htSNPs can be useful in genetic studies of diseases in which TNF may be of relevance.

de Souza JB, Todd J, Krishegowda G, Gowda DC, Kwiatkowski D, Riley EM. 2002. Prevalence and boosting of antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum glycosylphosphatidylinositols and evaluation of their association with protection from mild and severe clinical malaria. Infect Immun, 70 (9), pp. 5045-5051. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs), the anchor molecules of some membrane proteins of Plasmodium species, have been implicated in the induction of immunopathology during malaria infections. Hence, neutralization of GPIs by antibodies may reduce the severity of clinical attacks of malaria. To test this hypothesis, we have assessed the levels of anti-GPI antibodies in plasma from children and adults living in areas of seasonal malaria transmission in The Gambia. In a prospective study of susceptibility to clinical or asymptomatic infection, the levels of anti-GPI antibodies were measured before and after the transmission season. Samples were also obtained from children recruited into a hospital-based study of severe malaria. We find that in malaria-exposed individuals both the prevalence and the concentration of anti-GPI antibodies increase with age and that antibody levels are significantly higher at the end of the malaria transmission season than at the start of the season. Antibody levels are also higher in children with asymptomatic infections (i.e., those with a degree of clinical immunity) than in children who developed clinical malaria and high parasitemia, although this difference is not statistically significant. Importantly, antibodies appear to be rapidly boosted by clinical malaria infection, but children under the age of two years are seronegative for anti-GPI antibodies, even during an acute infection. While GPIs may be involved in the pathogenesis of human malaria, the data from this study do not provide any strong evidence to support the notion that anti-GPI antibodies confer resistance to mild or severe malarial disease. Further case-control studies, ideally of a prospective nature, are required to elucidate the role of antiglycolipid antibodies in protection from severe malaria.

Udalova IA, Kwiatkowski D. 2001. Interaction of AP-1 with a cluster of NF-kappa B binding elements in the human TNF promoter region. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 289 (1), pp. 25-33. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transcriptional activation of the human TNF gene involves multiple regulatory elements whose functional properties vary between stimuli and cell types. Here we have used a COS-7 expression system to dissect the transactivating potential of NF-kappa B binding sites in the human TNF promoter region from other regulatory influences. In this model, NF-kappa B acts largely through a dense cluster of three binding sites located 600 nt upstream of the transcription start site. We show that the transcriptional activity of this complex is highly sensitive to the p65:p50 ratio that is expressed. We demonstrate that the AP-1 complex c-Jun/Fra2 is capable of binding to this region and that this inhibits the transactivating effects of NF-kappa B. These results are suggestive of a complex regulatory element that mediates fine control rather than acting as a simple on-off switch for TNF gene expression.

Richardson A, Sisay-Joof F, Ackerman H, Usen S, Katundu P, Taylor T, Molyneux M, Pinder M, Kwiatkowski D. 2001. Nucleotide diversity of the TNF gene region in an African village. Genes Immun, 2 (6), pp. 343-348. | Show Abstract | Read more

The wide variety of disease associations reported at the TNF locus raises the question of how much variation exists within a single population. To address this question, we sequenced the entire TNF gene in 72 chromosomes from healthy residents of a village in The Gambia, West Africa. We found 12 polymorphisms in 4393 nucleotides, of which five have not been previously described, giving an estimated nucleotide diversity (theta) of 5.6 x 10(-4). A significantly higher frequency of polymorphisms was found in the promoter region than in the coding region (8/1256 vs 0/882 nucleotides, P = 0.02). All polymorphisms with the exception of one rare allele were found to be present in Malawi, which is both geographically and genetically distant from The Gambia. Genotyping of 424 Gambian and 121 Malawian adults showed a significant frequency difference between the two populations for eight of the 12 polymorphisms, but the average fixation index across the variable sites was relatively low (F(ST) = 0.007). We conclude that, at the TNF locus, the nucleotide diversity found within a single African village is similar to the global value for human autosomal genes sampled across different continents.

Hull J, Ackerman H, Isles K, Usen S, Pinder M, Thomson A, Kwiatkowski D. 2001. Unusual haplotypic structure of IL8, a susceptibility locus for a common respiratory virus. Am J Hum Genet, 69 (2), pp. 413-419. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interleukin-8 (IL8) is believed to play a role in the pathogenesis of bronchiolitis, a common viral disease of infancy, and a recent U.K. family study identified an association between this disease and the IL8-251A allele. In the present study we report data, from a different set of families, which replicate this finding; combined analysis of 194 nuclear families through use of the transmission/disequilibrium test gives P = .001. To explore the underlying genetic cause, we identified nine single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a 7.6-kb segment spanning the IL8 gene and its promoter region and used six of these SNPs to define the haplotypic structure of the IL8 locus. The IL8-251A allele resides on two haplotypes, only one of which is associated with disease, suggesting that this may not be the functional allele. Europeans show an unusual haplotype genealogy that is dominated by two common haplotypes differing at multiple sites, whereas Africans have much greater haplotypic diversity. These marked haplotype-frequency differences give an F(ST) of.25, and, in the European sample, both Tajima's D statistic (D = 2.58, P = .007) and the Hudson/Kreitman/Aguade test (chi(2) = 4.9, P = .03) reject neutral equilibrium, suggesting that selective pressure may have acted on this locus.

Hull J, Thomson A, Kwiatkowski D. 2000. Association of respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis with the interleukin 8 gene region in UK families. Thorax, 55 (12), pp. 1023-1027. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects nearly all children by the end of their second winter. Why some develop bronchiolitis is poorly understood; it is not known whether there is a genetic component. The pathological features include neutrophil infiltration and high levels of interleukin 8 (IL-8), a potent neutrophil chemoattractant. METHODS: Common genetic variants of the promoter region of the IL-8 gene were identified by sequencing DNA from 36 healthy individuals. Genetic correlates of IL-8 production were assessed using whole blood from 50 healthy subjects. To investigate genetic correlates of disease severity 117 nuclear families were recruited in which a child had required hospital admission for RSV bronchiolitis. RESULTS: A common single nucleotide polymorphism (allele frequency 0.44) was identified 251 bp upstream of the IL-8 transcription start site. The IL8-251A allele tended to be associated with increased IL-8 production by lipopolysaccharide stimulated whole blood (p=0.07). Using the transmission disequilibrium test, the frequency of this allele was significantly increased in infants with bronchiolitis (transmission = 62% (95% confidence interval (CI) 53 to 71), p=0.014) and particularly in those without known risk factors (transmission = 78% (95% CI 62 to 93), p=0.004). CONCLUSION: Disease severity following RSV infection appears to be determined by a genetic factor close to the IL-8 gene. Further analysis of this effect may elucidate causal processes in the pathogenesis of RSV bronchiolitis.

Udalova IA, Richardson A, Denys A, Smith C, Ackerman H, Foxwell B, Kwiatkowski D. 2000. Functional consequences of a polymorphism affecting NF-kappaB p50-p50 binding to the TNF promoter region. Mol Cell Biol, 20 (24), pp. 9113-9119. | Show Abstract | Read more

Stimulation of the NF-kappaB pathway often causes p65-p50 and p50-p50 dimers to be simultaneously present in the cell nucleus. A natural polymorphism at nucleotide -863 in the human TNF promoter (encoding tumor necrosis factor [TNF]) region provides an opportunity to dissect the functional interaction of p65-p50 and p50-p50 at a single NF-kappaB binding site. We found that this site normally binds both p65-p50 and p50-p50, but a single base change specifically inhibits p50-p50 binding. Reporter gene analysis in COS-7 cells expressing both p65-p50 and p50-p50 shows that the ability to bind p50-p50 reduces the enhancer effect of this NF-kappaB site. Using an adenoviral reporter assay, we found that the variant which binds p50-p50 results in a reduction of lipopolysaccharide-inducible gene expression in primary human monocytes. This finding adds to a growing body of experimental evidence that p50-p50 can inhibit the transactivating effects of p65-p50 and illustrates the potential for genetic modulation of inflammatory gene regulation in humans by subtle nucleotide changes that alter the relative binding affinities of different forms of the NF-kappaB complex.

Udalova IA, Vidal V, Scragg IG, Kwiatkowski D. 2000. Direct evidence for involvement of NF-kappaB in transcriptional activation of tumor necrosis factor by a spirochetal lipoprotein. Infect Immun, 68 (9), pp. 5447-5449. | Show Abstract | Read more

Variable major lipoprotein (Vmp) is a major tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-inducing component of Borrelia recurrentis, the agent of louse-borne relapsing fever. B. recurrentis Vmp rapidly stimulates nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB and proinflammatory cytokine gene expression in the human monocyte-like cell line MonoMac 6. By overexpressing disabled mutant IkappaBalpha in MonoMac 6 cells cotransfected with a reporter gene, we provide evidence that NF-kappaB is essential for the transcriptional activation of TNF in this system.

Aitman TJ, Cooper LD, Norsworthy PJ, Wahid FN, Gray JK, Curtis BR, McKeigue PM, Kwiatkowski D, Greenwood BM, Snow RW et al. 2000. Malaria susceptibility and CD36 mutation. Nature, 405 (6790), pp. 1015-1016. | Read more

Xu W, Humphries S, Tomita M, Okuyama T, Matsuki M, Burgner D, Kwiatkowski D, Liu L, Charles IG. 2000. Survey of the allelic frequency of a NOS2A promoter microsatellite in human populations: assessment of the NOS2A gene and predisposition to infectious disease. Nitric Oxide, 4 (4), pp. 379-383. | Show Abstract | Read more

Allelic frequencies of a (CCTTT)(n) pentanucleotide repeat in the NOS2A promoter region were determined in a total of 1393 unrelated individuals from five specific population groups in four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. There were highly significant differences in allele frequencies between the ethnically diverse populations. The repeat variation may have implications for the selective pressure of malaria or other infectious diseases that may operate at the NOS2 locus.

Knight JC, McGuire W, Kortok MM, Kwiatkowski D. 1999. Accuracy of genotyping of single-nucleotide polymorphisms by PCR-ELISA allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization typing and by amplification refractory mutation system. Clin Chem, 45 (10), pp. 1860-1863.

Knight JC, Kwiatkowski D. 1999. Inherited variability of tumor necrosis factor production and susceptibility to infectious disease. Proc Assoc Am Physicians, 111 (4), pp. 290-298. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a critical mediator of host defense against infection but may cause severe pathology when produced in excess. Individuals vary in the amount of TNF produced when their peripheral blood mononuclear cells are stimulated in vitro, and family studies indicate that much of this variability is genetically determined. Since the TNF response to infection is partly regulated at the transcriptional level, TNF promoter polymorphisms have been the subject of intense interest as potential determinants of disease susceptibility. A single nucleotide polymorphism at nucleotide -308 relative to the transcriptional start site has been associated with susceptibility to severe malaria, leishmaniasis, scarring trachoma, and lepromatous leprosy. Some experimental data indicate that this polymorphism acts to upregulate TNF transcription, but this remains controversial. Detailed analysis of multiple genetic markers at this locus and more sophisticated investigations of TNF transcriptional regulation, in different cell types and with a wide range of stimuli, are required to understand the molecular basis of these disease associations.

Knight JC, Udalova I, Hill AV, Greenwood BM, Peshu N, Marsh K, Kwiatkowski D. 1999. A polymorphism that affects OCT-1 binding to the TNF promoter region is associated with severe malaria. Nat Genet, 22 (2), pp. 145-150. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genetic variation in cytokine promoter regions is postulated to influence susceptibility to infection, but the molecular mechanisms by which such polymorphisms might affect gene regulation are unknown. Through systematic DNA footprinting of the TNF (encoding tumour necrosis factor, TNF) promoter region, we have identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that causes the helix-turn-helix transcription factor OCT-1 to bind to a novel region of complex protein-DNA interactions and alters gene expression in human monocytes. The OCT-1-binding genotype, found in approximately 5% of Africans, is associated with fourfold increased susceptibility to cerebral malaria in large case-control studies of West African and East African populations, after correction for other known TNF polymorphisms and linked HLA alleles.

Kuprash DV, Udalova IA, Turetskaya RL, Kwiatkowski D, Rice NR, Nedospasov SA. 1999. Similarities and differences between human and murine TNF promoters in their response to lipopolysaccharide. J Immunol, 162 (7), pp. 4045-4052. | Show Abstract

Transcription of the TNF gene is rapidly and transiently induced by LPS in cells of monocyte/macrophage lineage. Previous data suggested that multiple NF-kappaB/Rel binding sites play a role in the transcriptional response to LPS of the murine gene. However, the relevance of homologous sites in the human TNF gene remained a matter of controversy, partly because the high affinity NF-kappaB/Rel site located at -510 in the murine promoter is not conserved in humans. Here we used two sets of similarly designed human and mouse TNF promoter deletion constructs and overexpression of IkappaB in the murine macrophage cell line ANA-1 to show remarkable similarity in the pattern of the transcriptional response to LPS, further demonstrating the functional role of the distal promoter region located between -600 and -650. This region was characterized by mutagenesis of protein binding sites, including two relatively low affinity NF-kappaB/Rel sites, #2 and 2a. Mutation in each of the NF-kappaB sites resulted in 2- to 3-fold lower transcriptional activity in response to LPS. In contrast to LPS activation, the response to PMA was substantially lower in magnitude and required only the proximal promoter region. In summary, the functional topography of human and murine promoters when assayed in the same system has some marked similarities. Our observations support the notion that full LPS response of TNF gene requires both NF-kappaB and non-NF-kappaB nuclear proteins. Our data also suggest that the functional activity of a given kappaB site depends on the entire DNA sequence context in the promoter region.

McGuire W, Knight JC, Hill AV, Allsopp CE, Greenwood BM, Kwiatkowski D. 1999. Severe malarial anemia and cerebral malaria are associated with different tumor necrosis factor promoter alleles. J Infect Dis, 179 (1), pp. 287-290. | Show Abstract | Read more

Experimental evidence implicates tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the pathogenesis of malarial anemia, but there are few data relating to this hypothesis. This study found that severely anemic children with Plasmodium falciparum infection have low plasma TNF levels, in contrast to the high levels found in cerebral malaria. A previous case-control study in The Gambia found cerebral malaria, but not severe malarial anemia, was associated with the TNF-308 A allele. This study found that in the same population, severe malarial anemia was associated with the TNF-238 A allele, with an odds ratio of 2.5 (P<.001) after stratification for HLA type. These findings suggest that severe malarial anemia and cerebral malaria are influenced by separate genetic factors situated near the TNF gene.

Rowe JA, Newbold CI, Moulds JM, Miller LH. 1998. Reply. Parasitol Today, 14 (6), pp. 250. | Read more

Vidal V, Scragg IG, Cutler SJ, Rockett KA, Fekade D, Warrell DA, Wright DJ, Kwiatkowski D. 1998. Variable major lipoprotein is a principal TNF-inducing factor of louse-borne relapsing fever. Nat Med, 4 (12), pp. 1416-1420. | Show Abstract | Read more

Massive release of tumor necrosis factor is responsible for the potentially fatal larisch-Herxheimer reaction that follows antibiotic treatment of relapsing fever due to Borrelia recurrentis. We have undertaken the quantitative purification of the components of B. recurrentis that stimulate human monocytes to produce tumor necrosis factor. We show that the predominant factor inducing tumor necrosis factor is a variable lipoprotein homologous to the variable major protein of B. hermsii. We found antibodies to different forms of variable major protein in two patients with louse-borne relapsing fever. The three purified variable major proteins studied here differ in their ability to induce tumor necrosis factor production, which may partly explain the variable clinical severity of borrelial infection. These results may be of considerable relevance for the pathogenesis of Lyme disease and other forms of human borreliosis.

Rockett KA, Brookes R, Udalova I, Vidal V, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski D. 1998. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 induces nitric oxide synthase and suppresses growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a human macrophage-like cell line. Infect Immun, 66 (11), pp. 5314-5321. | Show Abstract

Inducible synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) by macrophages is an important mechanism of the host defense against intracellular infection in mice, but the evidence for significant levels of inducible NO production by human macrophages is controversial. Here we report that the human promyelocytic cell line HL-60, when differentiated to a macrophage-like phenotype, acquires the ability to produce substantial amounts of NO on stimulation with LPS or 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) in the absence of activating factors such as gamma interferon. Expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) was confirmed by sequencing of the reverse transcription-PCR product from stimulated HL-60 cells. Kinetic studies after lipopolysaccharide stimulation show that NOS2 mRNA levels rise within 3 to 6 h, that conversion of [14C]arginine to [14C]citrulline is maximal at 5 to 6 days, and that levels of reactive nitrogen intermediates stabilize at around 20 microM at 7 to 8 days. We find that 1,25-D3 acts to suppress the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in these cells and that this effect is inhibited by NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, suggesting that vitamin D-induced NO production may play a role in the host defense against human tuberculosis.

Burgner D, Xu W, Rockett K, Gravenor M, Charles IG, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski D. 1998. Inducible nitric oxide synthase polymorphism and fatal cerebral malaria. Lancet, 352 (9135), pp. 1193-1194. | Read more

Udalova IA, Knight JC, Vidal V, Nedospasov SA, Kwiatkowski D. 1998. Complex NF-kappaB interactions at the distal tumor necrosis factor promoter region in human monocytes. J Biol Chem, 273 (33), pp. 21178-21186. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe a dense cluster of DNA-protein interactions located 600 nucleotides upstream of the transcriptional start site of the human tumor necrosis factor (TNF) gene. This area was identified as being of potential importance for lipopolysaccharide-inducible TNF expression in the human monocyte cell line Mono Mac 6, based on reporter gene analysis of point mutations at a number of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB)-like motifs within the human TNF promoter region. The area contains two NF-kappaB sites, which are here shown by DNase I and methylation interference footprinting to flank a novel binding site. UV cross-linking studies reveal that the novel site can also bind NF-kappaB as well as an unknown protein(s) of approximately 40 kDa. We show that these three adjacent kappaB-binding sites differ markedly in their relative affinities for p50/p50, p65/p65, and p65/p50, yet this 39-nucleotide segment of DNA appears capable of binding up to three NF-kappaB heterodimers simultaneously. Reporter gene studies indicate that each element of the cluster contributes to lipopolysaccharide-induced transcriptional activation in Mono Mac 6 cells. These findings suggest that NF-kappaB acts in a complex manner to activate TNF transcription in human monocytes.

Bellamy R, Kwiatkowski D, Hill AV. 1998. Absence of an association between intercellular adhesion molecule 1, complement receptor 1 and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist gene polymorphisms and severe malaria in a West African population. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 92 (3), pp. 312-316. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many genes have been shown to be involved in host susceptibility to the severe forms of Plasmodium falciparum malaria but it is likely that a large number of malaria-susceptibility genes remain to be determined. We conducted a large case-control study of children with the severe forms of this disease-cerebral malaria and severe malarial anaemia--to attempt to identify these genes. Over 1200 children in The Gambia were typed for polymorphisms of the intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), complement receptor 1 (CR-1) and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-IRA) genes. None of the polymorphisms typed was significantly associated with severe disease. These data differed significantly from the results of a previous study (Chi 2 = 8.81; P = 0.003) in which the ICAM-1 gene polymorphism was shown to be significantly associated with cerebral malaria in a case-control study of 547 subjects in Kenya. This suggests that there may be heterogeneity in genetic susceptibility to this condition between these 2 African populations.

Rowe JA, Scragg IG, Kwiatkowski D, Ferguson DJ, Carucci DJ, Newbold CI. 1998. Implications of mycoplasma contamination in Plasmodium falciparum cultures and methods for its detection and eradication. Mol Biochem Parasitol, 92 (1), pp. 177-180. | Read more

Bethell DB, Flobbe K, Cao XT, Day NP, Pham TP, Buurman WA, Cardosa MJ, White NJ, Kwiatkowski D. 1998. Pathophysiologic and prognostic role of cytokines in dengue hemorrhagic fever. J Infect Dis, 177 (3), pp. 778-782. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dengue shock syndrome is a severe complication of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), characterized by a massive increase in vascular permeability. Plasma cytokine concentrations were prospectively studied in 443 Vietnamese children with DHF, of whom 6 died. Shock was present in 188 children on admission to hospital, and in 71 children it developed later. Contrary to expectations, certain inflammatory markers (interleukin-6 and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1) were lower in the group with shock, and this may reflect the general loss of protein from the circulation due to capillary leakage. Only soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) levels showed a consistent positive relationship with disease severity. In patients with suspected DHF without shock, admission levels of sTNFR-75 in excess of 55 pg/mL predicted the subsequent development of shock, with a relative risk of 5.5 (95% confidence interval, 2.3-13.2). Large-scale release of soluble TNFR may be an early and specific marker of the endothelial changes that cause dengue shock syndrome.

Gilbert SC, Plebanski M, Gupta S, Morris J, Cox M, Aidoo M, Kwiatkowski D, Greenwood BM, Whittle HC, Hill AV. 1998. Association of malaria parasite population structure, HLA, and immunological antagonism. Science, 279 (5354), pp. 1173-1177. | Show Abstract | Read more

Host-parasite coevolution has been likened to a molecular arms race, with particular parasite genes evolving to evade specific host defenses. Study of the variants of an antigenic epitope of Plasmodium falciparum that induces a cytotoxic T cell response supports this view. In African children with malaria, the variants present are influenced by the presence of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type that restricts the immune response to this epitope. The distribution of parasite variants may be further influenced by the ability of cohabiting parasite strains to facilitate each other's survival by down-regulating cellular immune responses, using altered peptide ligand antagonism.

Bellamy R, Ruwende C, McAdam KP, Thursz M, Sumiya M, Summerfield J, Gilbert SC, Corrah T, Kwiatkowski D, Whittle HC, Hill AV. 1998. Mannose binding protein deficiency is not associated with malaria, hepatitis B carriage nor tuberculosis in Africans. QJM, 91 (1), pp. 13-18. | Show Abstract | Read more

We retrospectively studied MBP genotypes in patients with malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriage, in clinics and hospitals in The Gambia. Children under 10 years with cerebral malaria and/or severe malarial anaemia, were compared with children with symptomatic, mild malaria, and controls of the same age and ethnicity. Adult TB cases with smear-positive pulmonary TB were compared with healthy blood donors from the same ethnic groups. Malaria cases and controls were tested for hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) and surface antigen (HBsAg). TB patients were tested for HIV antibodies. Genotyping used sequence-specific oligonucleotide analysis to identify MBP variant alleles. Overall, 46% (944/2041) of patients and controls were homozygous for the wild-type MBP allele, 45% (922/2041) were carriers of a single variant allele and 8.6% (175/2041) had two variant alleles. Neither homozygotes nor heterozygotes for MBP variants were at increased risk of clinical malaria, persistent HBV carriage or TB. The most common mutation in Africans, the codon 57 variant allele, was weakly associated with resistance to TB (221/794 in TB cases and 276/844 in controls, p = 0.037). MBP deficiency is not a significant risk factor for persistent HBV, severe malaria nor pulmonary TB in West Africa.

Kwiatkowski D, Marsh K. 1997. Development of a malaria vaccine. Lancet, 350 (9092), pp. 1696-1701. | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of an effective malaria vaccine poses a major scientific challenge both in the laboratory and in the field. Such a vaccine is necessary because of the massive disease burden of malaria in the developing world, the global spread of drug resistance, and the difficulty of sustainable control of the mosquito vector. Animal models have shown the immunological feasibility of vaccines targeted against different stages of parasite development, and studies in human volunteers have shown that a recombinant protein vaccine can protect against challenge with the homologous strain of parasite. However, both natural and vaccine-induced immunity are hampered by the remarkable capacity of the parasites to vary critical antigenic structures; large field trials of a synthetic peptide vaccine gave equivocal results. In an attempt to overcome the dual difficulty of poor immunogenicity and parasite diversity, much experimental work is now focused on complex antigenic constructs, delivered as DNA vaccines or in live vectors such as vaccinia, with multiple targets at each stage of parasite development.

Kwiatkowski D, Bate CA, Scragg IG, Beattie P, Udalova I, Knight JC. 1997. The malarial fever response--pathogenesis, polymorphism and prospects for intervention. Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 91 (5), pp. 533-542. | Show Abstract | Read more

It is estimated that over 200 million people each year suffer debilitating attacks of malarial fever, and roughly 2 million of these episodes are fatal. The fever is caused by tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and other pyrogenic cytokines that are released by the host immune system response to products of schizont rupture. TNF has anti-parasitic properties but excessive TNF production is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria. This review summarizes recent attempts to achieve molecular characterization of the parasite components that stimulate the host TNF response, and to define the host and parasite factors that affect the level of TNF production. Of particular interest are host polymorphisms that may regulate TNF gene expression, and naturally acquired antibodies that prevent the parasite from inducing TNF, both of which correlate with the clinical severity of infection. Our understanding of these processes, which are potentially of considerable therapeutic relevance, remains very limited at both the molecular and the epidemiological level.

McGuire W, Hill AV, Greenwood BM, Kwiatkowski D. 1996. Circulating ICAM-1 levels in falciparum malaria are high but unrelated to disease severity. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 90 (3), pp. 274-276. | Show Abstract | Read more

Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) mediates the binding of Plasmodium falciparum to vascular endothelium. In a case-control study of falciparum malaria in Gambian children, we have looked for evidence that a generalized increase in expression of ICAM-1 is associated with cerebral malaria. Plasma levels of circulating ICAM-1 (cICAM-1) were significantly higher in 246 children with acute malaria than in 156 children with non-malarial illnesses. cICAM-1 levels correlated with levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1 alpha) and interferon gamma, supporting the view that these cytokines are responsible for a general upregulation of ICAM-1 expression in malaria. However, while it has been previously shown that TNF and IL-1 alpha levels were related to disease severity, this was not the case for cICAM-1. It may be that differences in the distribution of ICAM-1, rather than its total level of expression, are critical in determining the clinical outcome in malaria.

Ruwende C, Khoo SC, Snow RW, Yates SN, Kwiatkowski D, Gupta S, Warn P, Allsopp CE, Gilbert SC, Peschu N. 1995. Natural selection of hemi- and heterozygotes for G6PD deficiency in Africa by resistance to severe malaria. Nature, 376 (6537), pp. 246-249. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, the most common enzymopathy of humans, affects over 400 million people. The geographical correlation of its distribution with the historical endemicity of malaria suggests that this disorder has risen in frequency through natural selection by malaria. However, attempts to confirm that G6PD deficiency is protective in case-control studies of malaria have yielded conflicting results. Hence, for this X-linked disorder, it is unclear whether both male hemizygotes and female heterozygotes are protected or, as frequently suggested, only females. Furthermore, how much protection may be afforded is unknown. Here we report that, in two large case-control studies of over 2,000 African children, the common African form of G6PD deficiency (G6PD A-) is associated with a 46-58% reduction in risk of severe malaria for both female heterozygotes and male hemizygotes. A mathematical model incorporating the measured selective advantage against malaria suggests that a counterbalancing selective disadvantage, associated with this enzyme deficiency, has retarded its rise in frequency in malaria-endemic regions. Although G6PD deficiency is now regarded as a generally benign disorder, in earlier environmental conditions it could have been significantly disadvantageous.

Thursz MR, Kwiatkowski D, Allsopp CE, Greenwood BM, Thomas HC, Hill AV. 1995. Association between an MHC class II allele and clearance of hepatitis B virus in the Gambia. N Engl J Med, 332 (16), pp. 1065-1069. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The course of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection does not appear to be determined by variations in viral virulence and may be influenced by the host immune response. We studied the distribution of human leukocyte antigens in children and adult men in the Gambia who spontaneously recovered from HBV infection as compared with the distribution of these antigens in subjects with persistent infection. METHODS: In a two-stage, case-control study, we analyzed the frequency of MHC class I antigens and class II haplotypes in people with either transient or persistent HBV infection. MHC class I typing was performed by microlymphocytotoxicity assays. MHC class II typing was performed with analysis of restriction-fragment-length polymorphisms (RFLPs), supplemented by other techniques. RESULTS: In the first stage (the study of children up to the age of 10 years), the RFLP pattern 25-1, which includes the class II allele HLA-DRB1*1302, was found in 58 of 218 subjects with transient HBV infection (26.6 percent) and 30 of 185 subjects with persistent infection (16.2 percent) (relative risk of carrying the 25-1 pattern in the persistently infected group as compared with the transiently infected group, 0.53; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.32 to 0.90; P = 0.012). In the second stage (the study of adults), HLA-DRB1*1302 was found in 50 of 195 subjects with transient HBV infection (25.6 percent) and in 3 of 40 subjects with persistent infection (7.5 percent) (relative risk, 0.24; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.04 to 0.80; P = 0.012). The RFLP pattern 13-2, which includes the class II allele DRB1*1301, was less frequent in children with persistent infection than in those with transient infection, an association that was neither confirmed nor excluded by the data on adults. Possible associations with HLA class I antigens found in children were not supported by the data on adults. CONCLUSIONS: The MHC class II allele DRB1*1302 was associated with protection against persistent HBV infection among both children and adults in the Gambia.

Thursz MR, Kwiatkowski D, Torok ME, Allsopp CE, Greenwood BM, Whittle HC, Thomas HC, Hill AV. 1995. Association of hepatitis B surface antigen carriage with severe malaria in Gambian children. Nat Med, 1 (4), pp. 374-375. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe malaria is a major cause of childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa but the factors predisposing children to severe forms of malaria have not been fully elucidated. In a case-control study of over 1,200 Gambian children hepatitis B virus carriage was significantly increased amongst cases of severe malaria compared to matched controls. We suggest that this association may relate to impaired clearance of liver stage parasites in the presence of the reduced level of HLA class I antigen expression on hepatocytes infected by hepatitis B virus. If this association is causal and viral carriage predisposes to severe malaria, widespread vaccination against hepatitis B virus may reduce mortality from severe malaria.

McGuire W, Hill AV, Allsopp CE, Greenwood BM, Kwiatkowski D. 1994. Variation in the TNF-alpha promoter region associated with susceptibility to cerebral malaria. Nature, 371 (6497), pp. 508-510. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumour-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is believed to have an important role in the pathogenesis of severe infectious disease and fatal cerebral malaria is associated with high circulating levels of this cytokine. In a large case-control study in Gambian children we find that homozygotes for the TNF2 allele, a variant of the TNF-alpha gene promoter region, have a relative risk of 7 for death or severe neurological sequelae due to cerebral malaria. Although the TNF2 allele is in linkage disequilibrium with several neighbouring HLA alleles, we show that this disease association is independent of HLA class I and class II variation. These data suggest that regulatory polymorphisms of cytokine genes can affect the outcome of severe infection. The maintenance of the TNF2 allele at a gene frequency of 0.16 in The Gambia implies that the increased risk of cerebral malaria in homozygotes is counterbalanced by some biological advantage.

Bate CA, Kwiatkowski DP. 1994. Stimulators of tumour necrosis factor production released by damaged erythrocytes. Immunology, 83 (2), pp. 256-261. | Show Abstract

We sought to characterize factors released by sonicated human erythrocytes that stimulate peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to release tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF). This response is not inhibited by polymyxin B, indicating that contaminating lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is not responsible. When erythrocyte lysates are fractionated by reverse-phase chromatography using a gradient of n-propanol on Sep-Pak C18 cartridges, the TNF-inducing activity elutes as a single peak. The erythrocyte-derived TNF-inducing activity is unaffected by digestion with proteases but is destroyed by mild base hydrolysis or digestion by lipases, indicating that compounds containing ester-linked acyl chains may be essential. These properties are similar to those of TNF stimulators that we have previously identified in erythrocytes infected with malaria parasites, except that the TNF-inducing activity per cell is about 200 times higher in parasitized erythrocytes than in uninfected erythrocytes. Lipase-digested erythrocyte lysates inhibit the TNF-inducing factors of both normal and malaria-infected erythrocytes, suggesting that lipase digestion creates partial structures which compete with active components for macrophage receptors. Such receptors may recognize a common structure that contains an inositol monophosphate (IMP)-like component, as IMP also inhibits the TNF response to erythrocyte-derived factors and to parasite lysates whereas it does not affect the response to LPS. We conclude that lysed erythrocytes release specific cytokine-inducing factors that may contribute to the fever response to non-infectious tissue injury.

Gupta S, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski D, Greenwood AM, Greenwood BM, Day KP. 1994. Parasite virulence and disease patterns in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 91 (9), pp. 3715-3719. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterogeneity in parasite virulence is one of several factors that have been proposed to contribute to the wide spectrum of disease severity in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. We used observed age-structured patterns of disease to define a population structure of P. falciparum, where the latter contains several independently transmitted antigenic types or "strains" that each induce some degree of strain-specific antidisease immunity upon infection. Patterns of incidence of severe and mild disease may be explained by assuming that a majority of these strains are associated with mild disease and that although severe malarial anemia is a complication occurring in a certain proportion of early infections with "mild" parasites, cerebral malaria is caused by a few distinct highly virulent strains. Considerable variation in parasite virulence, as a major factor of disease severity in malaria, is made possible by the absence of competition between the various parasite strains, arising from weak shared immune responses. The theoretical framework presented in this paper can explain other epidemiological observations, such as the results of interventions with insecticide-impregnated bednets.

Bate C, Kwiatkowski DP, Taverne J, Playfair JH. 1994. Immunizing against toxic malarial antigens: reply. Parasitol Today, 10 (1), pp. 24. | Read more

Krishna S, Waller DW, ter Kuile F, Kwiatkowski D, Crawley J, Craddock CF, Nosten F, Chapman D, Brewster D, Holloway PA. 1994. Lactic acidosis and hypoglycaemia in children with severe malaria: pathophysiological and prognostic significance. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 88 (1), pp. 67-73. | Show Abstract | Read more

Serial clinical and metabolic changes were monitored in 115 Gambian children (1.5-12 years old) with severe malaria. Fifty-three children (46%) had cerebral malaria (coma score < or = 2) and 21 (18%) died. Admission geometric mean venous blood lactate concentrations were almost twice as high in fatal cases as in survivors (7.1 mmol/L vs. 3.6 mmol/L; P < 0.001) and were correlated with levels of tumour necrosis factor (r = 0.42, n = 79; P < 0.0001) and interleukin 1-alpha (r = 0.6, n = 34; P < 0.0001). Admission blood venous glucose concentrations were lower in fatal cases than survivors (3.2 mmol/L, vs. 5.8 mmol/L; P < 0.0001). Treatment with quinine was associated with significantly more episodes of post-admission hypoglycaemia when compared with artemether or chloroquine. After treatment, lactate concentrations fell rapidly in survivors but fell only slightly, or rose, in fatal cases. Plasma cytokine levels fluctuated widely after admission. Sustained hyperlactataemia (raised lactate concentrations, 4 h after admission) proved to be the best overall prognostic indicator of outcome in this series. Lactic acidosis is an important cause of death in severe malaria.

Erunkulu OA, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski DP, Todd JE, Iqbal J, Berzins K, Riley EM, Greenwood BM. 1992. Severe malaria in Gambian children is not due to lack of previous exposure to malaria. Clin Exp Immunol, 89 (2), pp. 296-300. | Show Abstract | Read more

The reasons why only a small proportion of African children infected with Plasmodium falciparum develop severe or fatal malaria are not known. One possible reason is that children who develop severe disease have had less previous exposure to malaria infection, and hence have less acquired immunity, than children who develop a mild clinical attack. To investigate this possibility we have measured titres of a wide range of anti-P. falciparum antibodies in plasma samples obtained from children with severe malaria, children with mild malaria and from children with other illnesses. Mean antibody levels in patients with malaria were higher than those in patients with other conditions but, with only one exception, there were no significant differences in antibody titres between cases of severe or mild malaria. A parasitized-erythrocyte agglutination assay was used to estimate the diversity of parasite isolates to which children had been exposed; plasma samples obtained from children with cerebral malaria recognized as many isolates as did samples obtained from children with mild disease. Our findings do not provide any support for the view that the development of severe malaria in a small proportion of African children infected with P. falciparum is due to lack of previous exposure to the infection.

Hill AV, Allsopp CE, Kwiatkowski D, Taylor TE, Yates SN, Anstey NM, Wirima JJ, Brewster DR, McMichael AJ, Molyneux ME. 1992. Extensive genetic diversity in the HLA class II region of Africans, with a focally predominant allele, DRB1*1304. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 89 (6), pp. 2277-2281. | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular HLA class II typing of greater than 1700 individuals from The Gambia in West Africa and Malawi in South-Central Africa revealed a striking diversity of HLA DRB-DQB haplotypes as defined by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP); this diversity is twice as extensive as that found in northern Europeans. Despite this diversity, sequence and PCR/oligonucleotide analysis showed that the recently described variant DRB1*1304 is the commonest DRB1 allele in The Gambia. The sequence, geographical distribution, and RFLP association of this allele, together with homozygosity test results, suggest that DRB1*1304 may have arisen from DRB1*1102 and have reached its remarkably high frequency as a result of recent directional selection. The prevalence of this unusual allele has implications for trials of subunit vaccines in this area. The extensive and distinctive HLA class II region polymorphism in sub-Saharan Africans is consistent with evidence from other genetic loci implying an African origin of modern Homo sapiens.

Suputtamongkol Y, Kwiatkowski D, Dance DA, Chaowagul W, White NJ. 1992. Tumor necrosis factor in septicemic melioidosis. J Infect Dis, 165 (3), pp. 561-564. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma concentrations of the cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) were measured serially in 91 patients suspected of having septicemic melioidosis. This was confirmed in 55. TNF was detectable in admission plasma (TNF0) in 3 of 15 survivors of septicemic melioidosis and 21 of 26 fatal cases (P less than .001). The median (range) TNF0 concentration in melioidosis patients who died was 96 (1-4774) pg/ml, and the median time to death was 25 (5-672) h. TNF0 was inversely correlated with the lowest mean arterial pressure in the succeeding 12 h (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient = .67, 2P less than .001). Three patterns of TNF plasma concentrations were evident: relatively constant values between 100 and 500 pg/ml (n = 7), high admission concentrations (greater than 1000 pg/ml) associated with early death (n = 4), and an apparent pulse release after treatment, with peak values greater than 1000 pg/ml, which then declined with a mean (SD) apparent half-time of 131 (50) min (n = 8). Further studies are necessary to determine whether TNF contributes to lethality in melioidosis.

Hill AV, Bennett S, Allsopp CE, Kwiatkowski D, Anstey NM, Twumasi P, Rowe PA, Brewster D, McMichael AJ, Greenwood BM. 1992. HLA, malaria and dominant protective associations. Parasitol Today, 8 (2), pp. 57. | Read more

Allsopp CE, Harding RM, Taylor C, Bunce M, Kwiatkowski D, Anstey N, Brewster D, McMichael AJ, Greenwood BM, Hill AV. 1992. Interethnic genetic differentiation in Africa: HLA class I antigens in The Gambia. Am J Hum Genet, 50 (2), pp. 411-421. | Show Abstract

A total of 752 individuals from The Gambia, west Africa who are representative of the major ethnic groups in the capital, Banjul, were serologically typed for HLA-A, -B, and -C antigens. Although all were typically "African" in their antigenic profiles, some marked frequency differences were found between the ethnic groups. Genetic distance comparisons with several other African populations showed that, although these west African populations clustered closely together, the positions of the various ethnic groups in The Gambia were consistent with historical and linguistic evidence of their affinities with one another and with other African populations. Despite the potential confounding effects both of selection by infectious diseases and of genetic drift caused by local differences in population structure, HLA frequencies appear to be of value in measuring inter- and intraregional population affinities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hill AV, Allsopp CE, Kwiatkowski D, Anstey NM, Twumasi P, Rowe PA, Bennett S, Brewster D, McMichael AJ, Greenwood BM. 1991. Common west African HLA antigens are associated with protection from severe malaria. Nature, 352 (6336), pp. 595-600. | Show Abstract | Read more

A large case-control study of malaria in West African children shows that a human leucocyte class I antigen (HLA-Bw53) and an HLA class II haplotype (DRB1*1302-DQB1*0501), common in West Africans but rare in other racial groups, are independently associated with protection from severe malaria. In this population they account for as great a reduction in disease incidence as the sickle-cell haemoglobin variant. These data support the hypothesis that the extraordinary polymorphism of major histocompatibility complex genes has evolved primarily through natural selection by infectious pathogens.

Kwiatkowski D, Hill AV. 1991. Bed nets and malaria. Lancet, 338 (8758), pp. 52. | Read more

Hill AV, Allsopp CE, Kwiatkowski D, Anstey NM, Greenwood BM, McMichael AJ. 1991. HLA class I typing by PCR: HLA-B27 and an African B27 subtype. Lancet, 337 (8742), pp. 640-642. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe a rapid method of HLA class I typing using the polymerase chain reaction and oligonucleotide hybridisation that eliminates the requirements for viable lymphocytes and allows subtypes to be defined. We have used this to demonstrate that the predominant subtype of HLA-B27 in the Gambia, West Africa, is HLA-B*2703, which is very rare or absent in other racial groups. This subtype differs from the common Caucasian HLA-B27 subtypes in its recognition by cytotoxic T cells. We propose that HLA*B-2703, unlike other HLA-B27 subtypes, may not be associated with ankylosing spondylitis, thus accounting in part for the rarity of this condition in black populations.

Allsopp CE, Hill AV, Kwiatkowski D, Hughes A, Bunce M, Taylor CJ, Pazmany L, Brewster D, McMichael AJ, Greenwood BM. 1991. Sequence analysis of HLA-Bw53, a common West African allele, suggests an origin by gene conversion of HLA-B35. Hum Immunol, 30 (2), pp. 105-109. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the West African population of the Gambia the class I antigen HLA-Bw53 is found at high frequency. We used the polymerase chain reaction to amplify cDNA from an individual homozygous for this allele and determined the nucleotide sequence of the polymorphic alpha 1 and alpha 2 domains. The HLA-Bw53 sequence is identical to HLA-B35 except for a short sequence at the 3' end of exon 2 (encoding the alpha 1 domain) which specifies a Bw4 rather than a Bw6 motif. This suggests an origin for HLA-Bw53 involving a gene conversion of HLA-B35 by an allele containing this Bw4 sequence. The alpha 2 domain shared by HLA-Bw53, -B35, and -Bw58 is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africans.

Kwiatkowski D, Hill AV, Sambou I, Twumasi P, Castracane J, Manogue KR, Cerami A, Brewster DR, Greenwood BM. 1990. TNF concentration in fatal cerebral, non-fatal cerebral, and uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Lancet, 336 (8725), pp. 1201-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) were significantly higher in 178 Gambian children with uncomplicated malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum than in 178 children with other illnesses. 110 children with cerebral malaria were studied shortly after admission to hospital; 28 subsequently died. Compared with the children with uncomplicated malaria, mean plasma TNF levels were twice as high in cerebral malaria survivors and ten times as high in the fatal cases. Although high TNF levels were associated with high parasitaemia and with hypoglycaemia, they predicted fatal outcome in cerebral malaria independently of parasitaemia and glucose concentrations. Concentrations of interleukin-1 alpha, but not interferon gamma, were also related to the severity of malaria. We conclude that increased TNF production is a normal host response to P falciparum infection, but that excessive levels of production may predispose to cerebral malaria and a fatal outcome.

Brewster DR, Kwiatkowski D, White NJ. 1990. Neurological sequelae of cerebral malaria in children. Lancet, 336 (8722), pp. 1039-1043. | Show Abstract | Read more

Out of 604 Gambian children admitted with falciparum malaria to one hospital between September and December, 1988, 308 had cerebral malaria and 203 were severely anaemic (haemoglobin less than 60 g/l). 14% of those with cerebral malaria died, as did 7.8% of those with severe anaemia. 32 (12%) of children surviving cerebral malaria had residual neurological deficit. 69 other children were admitted with clinical features strongly suggestive of cerebral malaria but with negative blood films; 16 of these died and 3 had residual neurological deficits. The commonest sequelae of cerebral malaria were hemiplegia (23 cases), cortical blindness (11), aphasia (9), and ataxia (6). Factors predisposing to sequelae included prolonged coma, protracted convulsions, severe anaemia, and a biphasic clinical course characterised by recovery of consciousness followed by recurrent convulsions and coma. At follow up 1-6 months later over half these children had made a full recovery, but a quarter were left with a major residual neurological deficit. Cerebral malaria in childhood may be an important cause of neurological handicap in the tropics.

Waller D, Krishna S, Craddock C, Brewster D, Jammeh A, Kwiatkowski D, Karbwang J, Molunto P, White NJ. 1990. The pharmacokinetic properties of intramuscular quinine in Gambian children with severe falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 84 (4), pp. 488-491. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma quinine concentrations were measured in 21 Gambian children with severe falciparum malaria after intramuscular administration of a 20 mg (salt) per kg loading dose of quinine dihydrochloride followed by 10 mg/kg at 12 h intervals. Quinine was well absorbed reaching mean peak concentrations of 15.6 (standard deviation [SD] 4.5) mg/litre in a median time of 3 h (range 1-6 h). A one compartment model was fitted to the plasma concentration-time profile. The mean estimated systemic clearance (Cl/F) was 0.89 (SD 0.81) ml/kg/min and the mean elimination half life was 18.8 (SD 8.0) h. Two patients, one of whom died, had low plasma quinine levels which remained below 10 mg/litre. Mean peak and trough plasma concentrations after subsequent intramuscular doses ranged between 11.1 and 15.1 mg/litre. In most cases this dose regimen provided a satisfactory profile of blood concentrations for the treatment of severe malaria in children.

White NJ, Krishna S, Waller D, Craddock C, Kwiatkowski D, Brewster D. 1989. Open comparison of intramuscular chloroquine and quinine in children with severe chloroquine-sensitive falciparum malaria. Lancet, 2 (8675), pp. 1313-1316. | Show Abstract | Read more

An open paired randomised comparison of intramuscular chloroquine (3.5 mg base/kg every 6 h) and intramuscular quinine (20 mg salt/kg followed by 10 mg/kg every 12 h) was carried out in 50 Gambian children with severe falciparum malaria. 8 children died, 6 from the quinine-treated and 2 from the chloroquine-treated group. Chloroquine reduced parasitaemia significantly more rapidly than did quinine, but other measures of the therapeutic response were similar in the two groups. Quinine injections were painful. These findings do not support the proposition that quinine is intrinsically superior to chloroquine in the treatment of severe drug-sensitive falciparum malaria.

Amato R, Lim P, Miotto O, Amaratunga C, Dek D, Pearson RD, Almagro-Garcia J, Neal AT, Sreng S, Suon S et al. 2016. Genetic markers associated with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine failure in Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Cambodia: a genotype-phenotype association study. Lancet Infect Dis, | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As the prevalence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria increases in the Greater Mekong subregion, emerging resistance to partner drugs in artemisinin combination therapies seriously threatens global efforts to treat and eliminate this disease. Molecular markers that predict failure of artemisinin combination therapy are urgently needed to monitor the spread of partner drug resistance, and to recommend alternative treatments in southeast Asia and beyond. METHODS: We did a genome-wide association study of 297 P falciparum isolates from Cambodia to investigate the relationship of 11 630 exonic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 43 copy number variations (CNVs) with in-vitro piperaquine 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s), and tested whether these genetic variants are markers of treatment failure with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. We then did a survival analysis of 133 patients to determine whether candidate molecular markers predicted parasite recrudescence following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment. FINDINGS: Piperaquine IC50s increased significantly from 2011 to 2013 in three Cambodian provinces (2011 vs 2013 median IC50s: 20·0 nmol/L [IQR 13·7-29·0] vs 39·2 nmol/L [32·8-48·1] for Ratanakiri, 19·3 nmol/L [15·1-26·2] vs 66·2 nmol/L [49·9-83·0] for Preah Vihear, and 19·6 nmol/L [11·9-33·9] vs 81·1 nmol/L [61·3-113·1] for Pursat; all p≤10(-3); Kruskal-Wallis test). Genome-wide analysis of SNPs identified a chromosome 13 region that associates with raised piperaquine IC50s. A non-synonymous SNP (encoding a Glu415Gly substitution) in this region, within a gene encoding an exonuclease, associates with parasite recrudescence following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment. Genome-wide analysis of CNVs revealed that a single copy of the mdr1 gene on chromosome 5 and a novel amplification of the plasmepsin 2 and plasmepsin 3 genes on chromosome 14 also associate with raised piperaquine IC50s. After adjusting for covariates, both exo-E415G and plasmepsin 2-3 markers significantly associate (p=3·0 × 10(-8) and p=1·7 × 10(-7), respectively) with decreased treatment efficacy (survival rates 0·38 [95% CI 0·25-0·51] and 0·41 [0·28-0·53], respectively). INTERPRETATION: The exo-E415G SNP and plasmepsin 2-3 amplification are markers of piperaquine resistance and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine failures in Cambodia, and can help monitor the spread of these phenotypes into other countries of the Greater Mekong subregion, and elucidate the mechanism of piperaquine resistance. Since plasmepsins are involved in the parasite's haemoglobin-to-haemozoin conversion pathway, targeted by related antimalarials, plasmepsin 2-3 amplification probably mediates piperaquine resistance. FUNDING: Intramural Research Program of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medical Research Council, and UK Department for International Development.

Miotto O, Amato R, Ashley EA, MacInnis B, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Mead D, Oyola SO, Dhorda M et al. 2015. Genetic architecture of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Genet, 47 (3), pp. 226-234. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a large multicenter genome-wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin, the frontline antimalarial drug. Across 15 locations in Southeast Asia, we identified at least 20 mutations in kelch13 (PF3D7_1343700) affecting the encoded propeller and BTB/POZ domains, which were associated with a slow parasite clearance rate after treatment with artemisinin derivatives. Nonsynonymous polymorphisms in fd (ferredoxin), arps10 (apicoplast ribosomal protein S10), mdr2 (multidrug resistance protein 2) and crt (chloroquine resistance transporter) also showed strong associations with artemisinin resistance. Analysis of the fine structure of the parasite population showed that the fd, arps10, mdr2 and crt polymorphisms are markers of a genetic background on which kelch13 mutations are particularly likely to arise and that they correlate with the contemporary geographical boundaries and population frequencies of artemisinin resistance. These findings indicate that the risk of new resistance-causing mutations emerging is determined by specific predisposing genetic factors in the underlying parasite population.

Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network, Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network. 2014. Reappraisal of known malaria resistance loci in a large multicenter study. Nat Genet, 46 (11), pp. 1197-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many human genetic associations with resistance to malaria have been reported, but few have been reliably replicated. We collected data on 11,890 cases of severe malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum and 17,441 controls from 12 locations in Africa, Asia and Oceania. We tested 55 SNPs in 27 loci previously reported to associate with severe malaria. There was evidence of association at P < 1 × 10(-4) with the HBB, ABO, ATP2B4, G6PD and CD40LG loci, but previously reported associations at 22 other loci did not replicate in the multicenter analysis. The large sample size made it possible to identify authentic genetic effects that are heterogeneous across populations or phenotypes, with a striking example being the main African form of G6PD deficiency, which reduced the risk of cerebral malaria but increased the risk of severe malarial anemia. The finding that G6PD deficiency has opposing effects on different fatal complications of P. falciparum infection indicates that the evolutionary origins of this common human genetic disorder are more complex than previously supposed.

Oyola SO, Manske M, Campino S, Claessens A, Hamilton WL, Kekre M, Drury E, Mead D, Gu Y, Miles A et al. 2014. Optimized whole-genome amplification strategy for extremely AT-biased template. DNA Res, 21 (6), pp. 661-671. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pathogen genome sequencing directly from clinical samples is quickly gaining importance in genetic and medical research studies. However, low DNA yield from blood-borne pathogens is often a limiting factor. The problem worsens in extremely base-biased genomes such as the AT-rich Plasmodium falciparum. We present a strategy for whole-genome amplification (WGA) of low-yield samples from P. falciparum prior to short-read sequencing. We have developed WGA conditions that incorporate tetramethylammonium chloride for improved amplification and coverage of AT-rich regions of the genome. We show that this method reduces amplification bias and chimera formation. Our data show that this method is suitable for as low as 10 pg input DNA, and offers the possibility of sequencing the parasite genome from small blood samples.

Karlsson EK, Kwiatkowski DP, Sabeti PC. 2014. Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations. Nat Rev Genet, 15 (6), pp. 379-393. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ancient biological 'arms race' between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders. Using new high-throughput technologies, analytical methods and expanding public data resources, the investigation of natural selection is leading to new insights into the function and dysfunction of human biology.

Wendler JP, Okombo J, Amato R, Miotto O, Kiara SM, Mwai L, Pole L, O'Brien J, Manske M, Alcock D et al. 2014. A genome wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility to 22 antimalarial drugs in Kenya. PLoS One, 9 (5), pp. e96486. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Drug resistance remains a chief concern for malaria control. In order to determine the genetic markers of drug resistant parasites, we tested the genome-wide associations (GWA) of sequence-based genotypes from 35 Kenyan P. falciparum parasites with the activities of 22 antimalarial drugs. METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Parasites isolated from children with acute febrile malaria were adapted to culture, and sensitivity was determined by in vitro growth in the presence of anti-malarial drugs. Parasites were genotyped using whole genome sequencing techniques. Associations between 6250 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and resistance to individual anti-malarial agents were determined, with false discovery rate adjustment for multiple hypothesis testing. We identified expected associations in the pfcrt region with chloroquine (CQ) activity, and other novel loci associated with amodiaquine, quinazoline, and quinine activities. Signals for CQ and primaquine (PQ) overlap in and around pfcrt, and interestingly the phenotypes are inversely related for these two drugs. We catalog the variation in dhfr, dhps, mdr1, nhe, and crt, including novel SNPs, and confirm the presence of a dhfr-164L quadruple mutant in coastal Kenya. Mutations implicated in sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance are at or near fixation in this sample set. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Sequence-based GWA studies are powerful tools for phenotypic association tests. Using this approach on falciparum parasites from coastal Kenya we identified known and previously unreported genes associated with phenotypic resistance to anti-malarial drugs, and observe in high-resolution haplotype visualizations a possible signature of an inverse selective relationship between CQ and PQ.

Band G, Le QS, Jostins L, Pirinen M, Kivinen K, Jallow M, Sisay-Joof F, Bojang K, Pinder M, Sirugo G et al. 2013. Imputation-based meta-analysis of severe malaria in three African populations. PLoS Genet, 9 (5), pp. e1003509. | Show Abstract | Read more

Combining data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) conducted at different locations, using genotype imputation and fixed-effects meta-analysis, has been a powerful approach for dissecting complex disease genetics in populations of European ancestry. Here we investigate the feasibility of applying the same approach in Africa, where genetic diversity, both within and between populations, is far more extensive. We analyse genome-wide data from approximately 5,000 individuals with severe malaria and 7,000 population controls from three different locations in Africa. Our results show that the standard approach is well powered to detect known malaria susceptibility loci when sample sizes are large, and that modern methods for association analysis can control the potential confounding effects of population structure. We show that pattern of association around the haemoglobin S allele differs substantially across populations due to differences in haplotype structure. Motivated by these observations we consider new approaches to association analysis that might prove valuable for multicentre GWAS in Africa: we relax the assumptions of SNP-based fixed effect analysis; we apply Bayesian approaches to allow for heterogeneity in the effect of an allele on risk across studies; and we introduce a region-based test to allow for heterogeneity in the location of causal alleles.

Miotto O, Almagro-Garcia J, Manske M, Macinnis B, Campino S, Rockett KA, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S et al. 2013. Multiple populations of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia. Nat Genet, 45 (6), pp. 648-655. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe an analysis of genome variation in 825 P. falciparum samples from Asia and Africa that identifies an unusual pattern of parasite population structure at the epicenter of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia. Within this relatively small geographic area, we have discovered several distinct but apparently sympatric parasite subpopulations with extremely high levels of genetic differentiation. Of particular interest are three subpopulations, all associated with clinical resistance to artemisinin, which have skewed allele frequency spectra and high levels of haplotype homozygosity, indicative of founder effects and recent population expansion. We provide a catalog of SNPs that show high levels of differentiation in the artemisinin-resistant subpopulations, including codon variants in transporter proteins and DNA mismatch repair proteins. These data provide a population-level genetic framework for investigating the biological origins of artemisinin resistance and for defining molecular markers to assist in its elimination.

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Manske M, Miotto O, Campino S, Auburn S, Almagro-Garcia J, Maslen G, O'Brien J, Djimde A, Doumbo O, Zongo I et al. 2012. Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections by deep sequencing Nature, 487 (7407), pp. 375-379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P.falciparum genome. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Manske M, Miotto O, Campino S, Auburn S, Almagro-Garcia J, Maslen G, O'Brien J, Djimde A, Doumbo O, Zongo I et al. 2012. Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections by deep sequencing. Nature, 487 (7407), pp. 375-379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P. falciparum genome.

Clark TG, Fry AE, Auburn S, Campino S, Diakite M, Green A, Richardson A, Teo YY, Small K, Wilson J et al. 2009. Allelic heterogeneity of G6PD deficiency in West Africa and severe malaria susceptibility. Eur J Hum Genet, 17 (8), pp. 1080-1085. | Show Abstract | Read more

Several lines of evidence link glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency to protection from severe malaria. Early reports suggested most G6PD deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa was because of the 202A/376G G6PD A- allele, and recent association studies of G6PD deficiency have employed genotyping as a convenient way to determine enzyme status. However, further work has suggested that other G6PD deficiency alleles are relatively common in some regions of West Africa. To investigate the consequences of unrecognized allelic heterogeneity on association studies, in particular studies of G6PD deficiency and malaria, we carried out a case-control analysis of 2488 Gambian children with severe malaria and 3875 controls. No significant association was found between severe malaria and the 202A/376G G6PD A- allele when analyzed alone, but pooling 202A/376G with other deficiency alleles revealed the signal of protection (male odds ratio (OR) 0.77, 95% CI 0.62-0.95, P=0.016; female OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.89, P=0.004). We have identified the 968C mutation as the most common G6PD A- allele in The Gambia. Our results highlight some of the consequences of allelic heterogeneity, particularly the increased type I error. They also suggest that G6PD-deficient male hemizygotes and female heterozygotes are protected from severe malaria.

Jallow M, Teo YY, Small KS, Rockett KA, Deloukas P, Clark TG, Kivinen K, Bojang KA, Conway DJ, Pinder M et al. 2009. Genome-wide and fine-resolution association analysis of malaria in West Africa. Nat Genet, 41 (6), pp. 657-665. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a genome-wide association (GWA) study of severe malaria in The Gambia. The initial GWA scan included 2,500 children genotyped on the Affymetrix 500K GeneChip, and a replication study included 3,400 children. We used this to examine the performance of GWA methods in Africa. We found considerable population stratification, and also that signals of association at known malaria resistance loci were greatly attenuated owing to weak linkage disequilibrium (LD). To investigate possible solutions to the problem of low LD, we focused on the HbS locus, sequencing this region of the genome in 62 Gambian individuals and then using these data to conduct multipoint imputation in the GWA samples. This increased the signal of association, from P = 4 × 10(-7) to P = 4 × 10(-14), with the peak of the signal located precisely at the HbS causal variant. Our findings provide proof of principle that fine-resolution multipoint imputation, based on population-specific sequencing data, can substantially boost authentic GWA signals and enable fine mapping of causal variants in African populations.

Clark TG, Diakite M, Auburn S, Campino S, Fry AE, Green A, Richardson A, Small K, Teo YY, Wilson J et al. 2009. Tumor necrosis factor and lymphotoxin-alpha polymorphisms and severe malaria in African populations. J Infect Dis, 199 (4), pp. 569-575. | Show Abstract | Read more

The tumor necrosis factor gene (TNF) and lymphotoxin-alpha gene (LTA) have long attracted attention as candidate genes for susceptibility traits for malaria, and several of their polymorphisms have been found to be associated with severe malaria (SM) phenotypes. In a large study involving >10,000 individuals and encompassing 3 African populations, we found evidence to support the reported associations between the TNF -238 polymorphism and SM in The Gambia. However, no TNF/LTA polymorphisms were found to be associated with SM in cohorts in Kenya and Malawi. It has been suggested that the causal polymorphisms regulating the TNF and LTA responses may be located some distance from the genes. Therefore, more-detailed mapping of variants across TNF/LTA genes and their flanking regions in the Gambian and allied populations may need to be undertaken to find any causal polymorphisms.

Artemisinin resistance surveillance using novel genetic markers

The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum causes a massive burden of disease and death in the developing world.  Artemisinin is the main drug used to treat falciparum malaria but parasites in Southeast Asia are becoming increasingly resistant.  It will be a global health disaster if artemisinin resistance spreads to Africa, where most malaria deaths occur, and an international campaign is therefore being launched to eliminate malaria in the areas where resistance is currently established.  To ...

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