The interplay between microbial and genetic susceptibility factors is central to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Innate mechanisms, in particular through pattern recognition receptor (PRR) pathways, are the initiating drivers of host responses to microbes. Of the 200 loci associated to IBD, a number of genes modulate host PRR responses at many levels, and confer some of the largest genetic effect sizes observed in autoimmunity. Despite the significant recent discoveries in IBD- associated genetic loci, the functional consequences of the majority of these loci have yet to be identified. A central outcome of PRR activation by microbial products is induction of cytokines and microbial clearance pathways. IBD is largely characterized by dysregulated cytokines and anti-microbial responses, and modulation of cytokines plays a primary role in IBD treatment. Inter-individual variation in PRR-induced outcomes influences the critical balance between susceptibility to infection and inflammatory diseases. We hypothesize that polymorphisms in multiple IBD-associated genes contribute to inter-individual variation in PRR-induced cytokine secretion and microbial clearance pathways. Systematic, well-powered studies comprehensively defining the functional alterations driven by disease- associated human variation can provide enormous insight into central mechanisms of IBD; leveraging naturally occurring human genetic variation to systematically ?perturb? an experimental system represents an advantageous approach for precisely defining established and novel PRR-mediated mechanisms of signaling, cytokine secretion and microbial clearance. Therefore, we will utilize a large, well-powered cohort to screen for IBD-associated polymorphisms contributing to the variation in PRR-initiated cytokine secretion across individuals, and then define the molecular mechanisms wherein the implicated IBD- associated genes, as well as the identified polymorphisms, regulate PRR-induced signaling, cytokine secretion, and microbial clearance pathways. Relevance These combined studies will provide insight into whether those IBD-associated loci that regulate PRR- induced signaling, cytokine secretion and bacterial clearance do so through a loss- or gain-of-function, the mechanisms wherein the implicated genes mediate their contributions to these PRR-induced outcomes, and the specific consequences of the polymorphisms on gene function through examination of monocyte- derived cells from selected carriers. These comprehensive and mechanistic studies will be crucial for future studies that will examine gene consequences in vivo and ultimately, in the context of disease targeting.
We have developed a large functional screen to dissect the contributions of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated polymorphisms to the variation between individuals in pattern recognition receptor (PRR)-induced cytokine secretion; this provides a uniquely powerful means of determining the functional consequences of a number of IBD-associated loci. We will utilize this screen to first identify those IBD-associated polymorphisms contributing to PRR-initiated cytokines, and then dissect the mechanisms wherein both the genes and the specific polymorphisms within the genes modulate PRR-initiated cytokine secretion and microbial clearance. The dysregulation between these two essential functions is a major feature of IBD pathogenesis, such that we anticipate that studies focused on disease-associated polymorphisms that modulate the balance between cytokine secretion and microbial clearance will ultimately result in the improved targeting and prioritization of new therapeutic targets for IBD.
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