Matteo Vecellio, Amity R Roberts, Carla J Cohen, Adrian Cortes, Julian C Knight, Paul Bowness, B Paul Wordsworth
The authors sought to identify the functional basis for the genetic association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), upstream of the RUNX3 promoter, with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). They performed conditional analysis of genetic association data and used ENCODE data on chromatin remodelling and transcription factor (TF) binding sites to identify the primary AS-associated regulatory SNP in the RUNX3 region. The functional effects of this SNP were tested in luciferase reporter assays. Its effects on TF binding were investigated by electrophoretic mobility gel shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation. RUNX3 mRNA levels were compared in primary CD8+ T cells of AS risk and protective genotypes by real-time PCR. They identified a regulatory region upstream of RUNX3 that is modulated byrs4648889. The risk allele decreases TF binding (including IRF4) and reduces reporter activity and RUNX3 expression. These findings may have important implications for understanding the role of T cells and other immune cells in AS.