Polymorphism of the uteroglobin gene in systemic lupus erythematosus and IgA nephropathy

Lab Invest. 2002 May;82(5):543-6. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.3780448.


Uteroglobin (UG) is a multifunctional protein with anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory properties. The UG gene is located on the long arm of chromosome 11 (11q12.3-q13.1) in a region linked to some immune disorders. A guanine-adenine substitution at position 38 (A38G) has been found in the noncoding region of exon 1 that is significantly correlated with an increased risk of developing immune-mediated diseases. Recently an experimental model of UG knockout mice showed that in mice, UG deficiency causes severe glomerulopathy with mesangial deposition of IgA-fibronectin complexes. To detect the presence of polymorphisms in the UG coding sequence, the DNA of 109 patients with IgA nephropathy (IgAN), and 32 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were tested for the nucleotide sequence of all three UG exons by heteroduplex analysis. We detected heterozygous DNA only for exon 1 due to the A38G substitution, as confirmed by sequencing. We tested for A38G polymorphism, by restriction endonuclease digestion (Sau96I), both in SLE patients and in IgAN patients. Twenty patients with either membranous nephropathy (12) or focal and segmental glomerular sclerosis and 120 healthy subjects served as controls. Compared with both healthy controls and non-IgA control patients, the frequency of the 38A allele was significantly higher in SLE patients (38 of 64 alleles versus 89 of 240 alleles, p = 0.002, and versus 7 of 40 alleles, p < 0.001). IgAN patients showed an allelic distribution similar to both control groups. A subgroup of 18 IgAN patients undergoing renal replacement therapy because of end-stage renal disease showed a significant increase in 38A allele frequency (5 of 36 38G alleles versus 31 of 36 38A alleles, p < 0.001). UG is an immunomodulatory agent that is able to (a) inhibit the activity of several phospholipase A2 (PLA2s), (b) interfere with the function of both neutrophils and monocytes, and (c) prevent immune recognition, perhaps by masking surface antigens. This could account for the role this molecule plays in SLE. The A38G polymorphism is located within a region corresponding to the rat minimal promoter that proved to be important in the transcriptional regulation of UG. Although the significance of any alterations in the UG exon 1 noncoding region in humans has yet to be clarified, initial evidence suggests that it may alter the control of immune response and of inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA / genetics*
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA / pathology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / genetics
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / pathology
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / genetics
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Heteroduplex Analysis
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Lupus Nephritis / genetics*
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Uteroglobin / genetics*


  • Uteroglobin