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Epiregulin (EREG) variation is associated with susceptibility to tuberculosis

Thuong, NT;Hawn, TR;Chau, TT;Bang, ND;Yen, NT;Thwaites, GE;Teo, YY;Seielstad, M;Hibberd, M;Lan, NT;Caws, M;Farrar, JJ;Dunstan, SJ;

Although host genetics influences susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the human genes regulating pathogenesis remain largely unknown. We used M. tuberculosis-stimulated macrophage gene expression profiling in conjunction with a case-control genetic association study to discover epiregulin (EREG), as a novel candidate tuberculosis (TB) susceptibility gene. Using a genome-wide association study dataset, we found that among the 21 genes with greater than 50-fold induction, EREG had the most polymorphisms associated with TB. We genotyped haplotype-tagging polymorphisms in discovery (N = 337 cases, N = 380 controls) and validation (N = 332 cases) datasets and an EREG polymorphism (rs7675690) was associated with susceptibility to TB (genotypic comparison; corrected P = 0.00007). rs7675690 was also associated more strongly with infections caused by the Beijing lineage of M. tuberculosis when compared with non-Beijing strains (controls vs Beijing, OR 7.81, P = 8.7 10(-5); non-Beijing, OR 3.13, P = 0.074). Furthermore, EREG expression was induced in monocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with M. tuberculosis as well as TLR4 and TLR2/1/6 ligands. In murine macrophages, EREG expression induced by M. tuberculosis was MYD88- and TLR2-dependent. Together, these data provide the first evidence for an important role for EREG as a susceptibility gene for human TB.