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J Neuroimmunol. 2005 Oct;167(1-2):157-69.

Mapping gene activity in complex disorders: Integration of expression and genomic scans for multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of California, 513 Parnassus Avenue, S-256, San Francisco, CA 94143-0435, USA.


Genetic predisposition contributes to the pathogenesis of most common diseases. Genetic studies have been extremely successful in the identification of genes responsible for a number of Mendelian disorders. However, with a few exceptions, genes predisposing to diseases with complex inheritance remain unknown despite multiple efforts. In this article we collected detailed information for all genome-wide genetic screens performed to date in multiple sclerosis (MS) and in its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and integrated these results with those from all high throughput gene expression studies in humans and mice. We analyzed a total of 55 studies. We found that differentially expressed genes (DEG) are not uniformly distributed in the genome, but rather appear in clusters. Furthermore, these clusters significantly differ from the known heterogeneous organization characteristic of eukaryotic gene distributions. We also identified regions of susceptibility that overlapped with clusters of DEG leading to the prioritization of candidate genes. Integration of genomic and transcriptional information is a powerful tool to dissect genetic susceptibility in complex multifactorial disorders like MS.

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