Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a complex disease with a known human genetic component. Males seem to be more affected than females and in most countries the TB notification rate is twice as high in males than in females. While socio-economic status, behavior and sex hormones influence the male bias they do not fully account for it. Males have only one copy of the X chromosome, while diploid females are subject to X chromosome inactivation. In addition, the X chromosome codes for many immune-related genes, supporting the hypothesis that X-linked genes could contribute to TB susceptibility in a sex-biased manner. We report the first TB susceptibility genome-wide association study (GWAS) with a specific focus on sex-stratified autosomal analysis and the X chromosome. A total of 810 individuals (410 cases and 405 controls) from an admixed South African population were genotyped using the Illumina Multi Ethnic Genotyping Array, specifically designed as a suitable platform for diverse and admixed populations. Association testing was done on the autosome (8,27,386 variants) and X chromosome (20,939 variants) in a sex stratified and combined manner. SNP association testing was not statistically significant using a stringent cut-off for significance but revealed likely candidate genes that warrant further investigation. A genome wide interaction analysis detected 16 significant interactions. Finally, the results highlight the importance of sex-stratified analysis as strong sex-specific effects were identified on both the autosome and X chromosome.
Keywords: GWAS; X chromosome; host genetics; sex-bias; sex-stratified; susceptibility; tuberculosis.