Conjunctival fibrosis and the innate barriers to Chlamydia trachomatis intracellular infection: a genome wide association study

30 Nov 2015
Roberts Ch, Franklin CS, Makalo P, Joof H, Sarr I, Mahdi OS, Sillah A, Bah M, Payne F, Jeffreys AE, Bottomley W, Natividad A, Molina-Gonzalez S, Burr SE, Preston M, Kwiatkowski D, Rockett KA, Clark TG, Burton MJ, Mabey DC, Bailey R, Barroso I, Holland MJ.

Chlamydia trachomatis causes both trachoma and sexually transmitted infections. These diseases have similar pathology and potentially similar genetic predisposing factors. We aimed to identify polymorphisms and pathways associated with pathological sequelae of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infections in The Gambia. We report a discovery phase genome-wide association study (GWAS) of scarring trachoma (1090 cases, 1531 controls) that identified 27 SNPs with strong, but not genome-wide significant, association with disease (5 × 10(-6) > P > 5 × 10(-8)). The most strongly associated SNP (rs111513399, P = 5.38 × 10(-7)) fell within a gene (PREX2) with homology to factors known to facilitate chlamydial entry to the host cell. Pathway analysis of GWAS data was significantly enriched for mitotic cell cycle processes (P = 0.001), the immune response (P = 0.00001) and for multiple cell surface receptor signalling pathways. New analyses of published transcriptome data sets from Gambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia also revealed that the same cell cycle and immune response pathways were enriched at the transcriptional level in various disease states. Although unconfirmed, the data suggest that genetic associations with chlamydial scarring disease may be focussed on processes relating to the immune response, the host cell cycle and cell surface receptor signalling.