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Human CCL3L1 copy number variation, gene expression, and the role of the CCL3L1-CCR5 axis in lung function

By Adeolu B. Adewoye, Nick Shrine, Linda Odenthal-Hesse, Samantha Welsh, Anders Malarstig, Scott Jelinsky, Iain Kilty, Martin D Tobin, Edward J Hollox, Louise V. Wain

Posted 17 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/249508 (published DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.13902.1)

The CCL3L1-CCR5 signaling axis is important in a number of inflammatory responses, including macrophage function, and T-cell-dependent immune responses. Small molecule CCR5 antagonists exist, including the approved antiretroviral drug maraviroc, and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies are in development. Repositioning of drugs and targets into new disease areas can accelerate the availability of new therapies and substantially reduce costs. As it has been shown that drug targets with genetic evidence supporting their involvement in the disease are more likely to be successful in clinical development, using genetic association studies to identify new target repurposing opportunities could be fruitful. Here we investigate the potential of perturbation of the CCL3L1-CCR5 axis as treatment for respiratory disease. Europeans typically carry between 0 and 5 copies of CCL3L1 and this multi-allelic variation is not detected by widely used genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism studies. We directly measured the complex structural variation of CCL3L1 using the Paralogue Ratio Test (PRT) and imputed (with validation) CCR5del32 genotypes in 5,000 individuals from UK Biobank, selected from the extremes of the lung function distribution, and analysed DNA and RNAseq data for CCL3L1 from the 1000 Genomes Project. We confirmed the gene dosage effect of CCL3L1 copy number on CCL3L1 mRNA expression levels. We found no evidence for association of CCL3L1 copy number or CCR5del32 genotype with lung function suggesting that repositioning CCR5 antagonists is unlikely to be successful for the treatment of airflow obstruction.

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