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PLoS Genet. 2008 Jun 20;4(6):e1000101. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000101.

Plasminogen alleles influence susceptibility to invasive aspergillosis.

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Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.


Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a common and life-threatening infection in immunocompromised individuals. A number of environmental and epidemiologic risk factors for developing IA have been identified. However, genetic factors that affect risk for developing IA have not been clearly identified. We report that host genetic differences influence outcome following establishment of pulmonary aspergillosis in an exogenously immune suppressed mouse model. Computational haplotype-based genetic analysis indicated that genetic variation within the biologically plausible positional candidate gene plasminogen (Plg; Gene ID 18855) correlated with murine outcome. There was a single nonsynonymous coding change (Gly110Ser) where the minor allele was found in all of the susceptible strains, but not in the resistant strains. A nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (Asp472Asn) was also identified in the human homolog (PLG; Gene ID 5340). An association study within a cohort of 236 allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients revealed that alleles at this SNP significantly affected the risk of developing IA after HSCT. Furthermore, we demonstrated that plasminogen directly binds to Aspergillus fumigatus. We propose that genetic variation within the plasminogen pathway influences the pathogenesis of this invasive fungal infection.

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Conflict of interest statement

Aimee K. Zaas, MD serves on the speaker's bureau for Pfizer, Inc. John R. Perfect is a consultant for the Robert Michael Educational Institute. Guochun Liao, Jonathan Usuka and Gary Peltz are employees of Roche Biosciences. All other authors declare that no conflict of interest exists.

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