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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Sep;45(9):1062-7. Epub 2006 Jun 12.

Mice, humans and haplotypes--the hunt for disease genes in SLE.

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Rheumatology Section, Imperial College, Faculty of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK.


Defining the polymorphisms that contribute to the development of complex genetic disease traits is a challenging, although increasingly tractable problem. Historically, the technical difficulties in conducting association studies across the entire human genome are such that murine models have been used to generate candidate genes for analysis in human complex diseases, such as SLE. In this article we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach and specifically address some assumptions made in the transition from studying one species to another, using lupus as an example. These issues include differences in genetic structure and genetic organisation which are a reflection on the population history. Clearly there are major differences in the histories of the human population and inbred laboratory strains of mice. Both human and murine genomes do exhibit structure at the genetic level. That is to say, they comprise haplotypes which are genomic regions that carry runs of polymorphisms that are not independently inherited. Haplotypes therefore reduce the number of combinations of the polymorphisms in the DNA in that region and facilitate the identification of disease susceptibility genes in both mice and humans. There are now novel means of generating candidate genes in SLE using mutagenesis (with ENU) in mice and identifying mice that generate antinuclear autoimmunity. In addition, murine models still provide a valuable means of exploring the functional consequences of genetic variation. However, advances in technology are such that human geneticists can now screen large fractions of the human genome for disease associations using microchip technologies that provide information on upwards of 100,000 different polymorphisms. These approaches are aimed at identifying haplotypes that carry disease susceptibility mutations and rely less on the generation of candidate genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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