One of the hallmarks of the human autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs) is the production of high titers of autoantibodies against thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase that often precedes the development of clinical disease. A high percentage of family members of patients with AITDs have significant titers of thyroid antibodies (TAbs), suggesting a genetic predisposition for their development, and segregation analyses have favored a dominant mode of inheritance. The aim of the present study was to identify the susceptibility genes for TAb production. We completed a genome-wide scan in 56 multiplex families (323 individuals) in which all family members with AITDs and/or detectable TAbs were considered affected. The highest 2-point logarithm of odds (LOD) score of 3.6 was obtained for marker D2S325 on chromosome 2q33 at 210.9 centimorgans. This locus showed no evidence for linkage to Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis (2-point LOD scores, 0.42 for Graves' disease and -0.60 for Hashimoto's thyroiditis), demonstrating that the gene in this region conferred susceptibility to TAbs, but that clinical disease development required additional genetic and/or environmental factors. We then fine-mapped the region linked with TAbs using 11 densely spaced microsatellite markers. Multipoint linkage analysis using these markers showed a maximum LOD score of 4.2 obtained for marker D2S155 at 209.8 centimorgans (with heterogeneity, α = 0.41). As the linked region contained the CTLA-4 and CD28 genes, we then tested whether they were the susceptibility genes for TAbs on chromosome 2q33. The CD28 gene was sequenced in 15 individuals, and a new C/T single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was identified in intron 3. Analysis of this SNP revealed no association with TAbs in the probands of the linked families (families that were linked with D2S155) compared with controls. The CTLA-4 gene was analyzed using the known A/G49 SNP, and the results showed a significantly increased frequency of the G allele in the probands of the linked families compared with the probands of the unlinked families or with controls (P = 0.02). We concluded that 1) a major gene for thyroid autoantibody production was located on chromosome 2q33; 2) the TAb gene on chromosome 2q33 was most likely the CTLA-4 gene and not the CD28 gene; and 3) CTLA-4 contributed to the genetic susceptibility to TAb production, but there was no evidence that it contributed specifically to Graves' or Hashimoto's diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical