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Comp Med. 2009 Dec;59(6):580-8.

Comparative analyses of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the TNF promoter region provide further validation for the vervet monkey model of obesity.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Section on Comparative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. stgray@wfubmc.edu


Tumor necrosis factor is a cytokine that plays critical roles in inflammation, the innate immune response, and a variety of other physiologic and pathophysiologic processes. In addition, TNF has recently been shown to mediate an intersection of chronic, low-grade inflammation and concurrent metabolic dysregulation associated with obesity and its comorbidities. As part of an ongoing initiative to further characterize vervet monkeys originating from St Kitts as an animal model of obesity and inflammation, we sequenced and genotyped the human ortholog vervet TNF gene and approximately 1 kb of the flanking 3' and 5' regions from 265 monkeys in a closed, pedigreed colony. This process revealed a total of 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a single 4-bp insertion-deletion, with minor allele frequencies of 0.08 to 0.39. Many of these polymorphisms were in strong or complete linkage disequilibrium with each other, and all but 1 were contained within a single haplotype block, comprising 5 haplotypes with frequencies of 0.075 to 0.298. Using sequences from humans, chimpanzees, vervets, baboons, and rhesus macaques, phylogenetic shadowing of the TNF promoter region revealed that vervet SNPs, like the SNPs in related species, were clustered nonrandomly and nonuniformly around conserved transcription factor binding sites. These data, combined with previously defined heritable phenotypes, permit future association analyses in this nonhuman primate model and have great potential to help dissect the genetic and nongenetic contributions to complex diseases like obesity. More broadly, the sequence data and comparative analyses reported herein facilitates study of the evolution of regulatory sequences of inflammatory and immune-related genes.

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