Background: The ADAM33 gene has recently been associated with asthma and bronchial hyper-reactivity. It codes for a disintegrin and metalloproteinase that triggers intra- and extracellular signalling by protein shedding.
Objective: We examined whether polymorphisms in ADAM33 are associated with asthma and related traits in two German populations.
Methods: We genotyped 15 intragenic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry of allele-specific primer extension products. The transmission disequilibrium test was used for association analysis in the German asthma family study. Additionally, we tested for association of these SNPs in a case-control sample from the European Community Respiratory Health Study using Armitage's trend test.
Results: In both studies, we found SNPs that were significantly associated with asthma and related traits. In the family study, significant associations were observed for the SNPs F+1, ST+4 and ST+5 (with the lowest P-value for F+1, P=0.005). Remarkably, this association is seen even in the absence of linkage with two microsatellite markers from a previous genome scan either 3.1 million bases (Mb) up- or 5.6 Mb downstream. In the case-control study, SNP ST+7 (P=0.008) was significantly associated with asthma. Some of these SNPs overlapped with those found to be associated with elevated total IgE levels and bronchial hyper-responsiveness.
Conclusion: This study replicates the recently published association between asthma and ADAM33 gene variants. However, most of the associated SNPs were at non-identical positions in the German, UK and US samples. As linkage disequilibrium is high among the tested SNPs, and there is no known functional polymorphism, either not-tested variants in ADAM33, unknown regulatory elements or a gene in close proximity is responsible for this association.