Genetic factors in autoimmune myasthenia gravis

Matthieu Giraud, Claire Vandiedonck, Henri-Jean Garchon
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2008, 1132: 180-92
Autoimmune myasthenia gravis (MG) is a multifactorial disease, markedly influenced by genetic factors, even though it shows limited heritability. The clinically typical form of autoimmune MG with thymus hyperplasia shows the most reproducible genetic associations, especially with the A1-B8-DR3 (8.1) haplotype of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). However, because of strong linkage disequilibrium, the causative polymorphism in this region is not known yet. Increasing the density of genetic markers has nevertheless recently revealed the complex, but highly significant contribution of this essential genetic region in controlling the disease phenotype and the quantitative expression of serum autoantibodies. The advances of the human genome program, the development of genotyping and sequencing tools with increasing throughput, and the availability of powerful statistical methods now make feasible the dissection of a complex genetic region, such as the MHC and beyond, the systematic search throughout the genome for variants influencing disease predisposition. The identification of such functional variants should provide new clues to the pathogenesis of MG, as recently illustrated by the study of a promoter polymorphism of the CHRNA1 locus, influencing its thymic expression and central tolerance, or of a coding variant of the PTPN22 intracellular phosphatase.

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