RNA-seq Analysis Reveals Unique Transcriptome Signatures in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Patients with Distinct Autoantibody Specificities

PLoS One. 2016 Nov 11;11(11):e0166312. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166312. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients exhibit immense heterogeneity which is challenging from the diagnostic perspective. Emerging high throughput sequencing technologies have been proved to be a useful platform to understand the complex and dynamic disease processes. SLE patients categorised based on autoantibody specificities are reported to have differential immuno-regulatory mechanisms. Therefore, we performed RNA-seq analysis to identify transcriptomics of SLE patients with distinguished autoantibody specificities. The SLE patients were segregated into three subsets based on the type of autoantibodies present in their sera (anti-dsDNA+ group with anti-dsDNA autoantibody alone; anti-ENA+ group having autoantibodies against extractable nuclear antigens (ENA) only, and anti-dsDNA+ENA+ group having autoantibodies to both dsDNA and ENA). Global transcriptome profiling for each SLE patients subsets was performed using Illumina® Hiseq-2000 platform. The biological relevance of dysregulated transcripts in each SLE subsets was assessed by ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) software. We observed that dysregulation in the transcriptome expression pattern was clearly distinct in each SLE patients subsets. IPA analysis of transcripts uniquely expressed in different SLE groups revealed specific biological pathways to be affected in each SLE subsets. Multiple cytokine signaling pathways were specifically dysregulated in anti-dsDNA+ patients whereas Interferon signaling was predominantly dysregulated in anti-ENA+ patients. In anti-dsDNA+ENA+ patients regulation of actin based motility by Rho pathway was significantly affected. The granulocyte gene signature was a common feature to all SLE subsets; however, anti-dsDNA+ group showed relatively predominant expression of these genes. Dysregulation of Plasma cell related transcripts were higher in anti-dsDNA+ and anti-ENA+ patients as compared to anti-dsDNA+ ENA+. Association of specific canonical pathways with the uniquely expressed transcripts in each SLE subgroup indicates that specific immunological disease mechanisms are operative in distinct SLE patients' subsets. This 'sub-grouping' approach could further be useful for clinical evaluation of SLE patients and devising targeted therapeutics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity / immunology
  • Antigens, Nuclear / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / genetics*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Transcriptome / immunology*
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Autoantibodies

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant (BT/PR4619/MED/30/834/2012) from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (http://dbtindia.nic.in/index.asp) to GR. RR was supported by junior and senior research fellowship from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (http://www.csirhrdg.res.in/), New Delhi, India. The funding agency had no role in study design, data collection, analysis and decision to publish the paper.