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ERAP1, ERAP2, and two copies of HLA-Aw19 alleles increase the risk for Birdshot Chorioretinopathy in HLA-A29 carriers

By Sahar Gelfman, Dominique Monnet, Ann J Ligocki, Thierry Tabary, Arden Moscati, Xiaodong Bai, Jan Freudenberg, Blerta Cooper, Jack A. Kosmicki, Sarah Wolf, Regeneron Genetics Center, Manuel A.R. Ferreira, John Overton, Jonathan Weyne, Eli A Stahl, Aris Baras, Carl Romano, Jacques HM COHEN, Giovanni Coppola, Antoine Brezin

Posted 05 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.02.21259921

Purpose: Birdshot Chorioretinopathy (BSCR) is strongly associated with HLA-A29. This study was designed to elucidate the genetic modifiers of BSCR in HLA-A29 carriers. Methods: We sequenced the largest BSCR cohort to date, including 286 cases and 108 HLA-A29 positive controls to perform genome wide common and rare variant associations. We further typed the HLA alleles of cases and 45,386 HLA-A29 controls of European ancestry to identify HLA alleles that associate with BSCR risk. Results: Carrying a second allele that belongs to the HLA-Aw19 broad antigen family (including HLA-A29, A30, A31, and A33) increases the risk for BSCR (OR=4.44, p=2.2e-03). This result was validated by comparing allele frequencies to large HLA-A29-controlled cohorts (n=45,386, OR>2.5, p<1.3e-06). We also confirm that ERAP1 and ERAP2 haplotypes modulate the risk for disease within our HLA-A29 controlled cohort. A meta-analysis with an independent dataset confirmed that ERAP1 and ERAP2 haplotypes modulate the risk for disease at a genome-wide significant level: ERAP1-rs27432 (OR 2.46; 95% CI 1.85-3.26; p=4.07e-10), an eQTL decreasing ERAP1 expression, and ERAP2-rs10044354 (OR 1.95; 95% CI 1.55-2.44; p=6.2e-09), an eQTL increasing ERAP2 expression. Furthermore, ERAP2-rs2248374 that disrupts ERAP2 expression is protective (OR 0.56; 95% CI [0.45-0.70]; p=2.39e-07). BSCR risk is additively increased when combining ERAP1/ERAP2 risk genotypes with two copies of HLA-Aw19 alleles (OR 13.53; 95% CI 3.79-54.77, p=1.17e-05). Conclusions: The genetic factors increasing BSCR risk demonstrate a pattern of increased processing, as well as increased presentation of ERAP2 specific peptides. This suggests a mechanism in which exceeding a peptide presentation threshold activates the immune response in choroids of A29 carriers.

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