Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

GPRA and the asthma locus on chromosome 7p14-p15

Ville Pulkkinen

Doctoral dissertation, September 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Division of biochemistry and University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Genetics.

The basis of this work was the identification of a genomic region on chromosome 7p14-p15 that strongly associated with asthma and high serum total immunoglobulin E in a Finnish founder population from Kainuu. Using a hierarchical genotyping approach the linkage region was narrowed down until an evolutionary collectively inherited 133-kb haplotype block was discovered. The results were confirmed in two independent data sets: Asthma families from Quebec and allergy families from North-Karelia. In all the three cohorts studied, single nucleotide polymorphisms tagging seven common gene variants (haplotypes) were identified. Over half of the asthma patients carried three evolutionary closely related susceptibility haplotypes as opposed to approximately one third of the healthy controls. The risk effects of the gene variants varied from 1.4 to 2.5.

In the disease-associated region, there was one protein-coding gene named GPRA (G Protein-coupled Receptor for Asthma susceptibility also known as NPSR1) which displayed extensive alternative splicing. Only the two isoforms with distinct intracellular tail sequences, GPRA-A and -B, encoded a full-length G protein-coupled receptor with seven transmembrane regions. Using various techniques, we showed that GPRA is expressed in multiple mucosal surfaces including epithelial cells throughout the respiratory tract. GPRA-A has additional expression in respiratory smooth muscle cells. However, in bronchial biopsies with unknown haplotypes, GPRA-B was upregulated in airways of all patient samples in contrast to the lack of expression in controls.

Further support for GPRA as a common mediator of inflammation was obtained from a mouse model of ovalbumin-induced inflammation, where metacholine-induced airway hyperresponsiveness correlated with elevated GPRA mRNA levels in the lung and increased GPRA immunostaining in pulmonary macrophages. A novel GPRA agonist, Neuropeptide S (NPS), stimulated phagocytosis of Esterichia coli bacteria in a mouse macrophage cell line indicating a role for GPRA in the removal of inhaled allergens.

The suggested GPRA functions prompted us to study, whether GPRA haplotypes associate with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in infants sharing clinical symptoms with asthma. According to the results, near-term RDS and asthma may also share the same susceptibility and protective GPRA haplotypes. As in asthma, GPRA-B isoform expression was induced in bronchial smooth muscle cells in RDS and BPD suggesting a role for GPRA in bronchial hyperresponsiveness.

In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that the dysregulation of the GPRA/NPS pathway may not only be limited to the individuals carrying the risk variants of the gene but is also involved in the regulation of immune functions of asthma.

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Last updated 10.08.2006

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