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A survey of genetic fetal-haemoglobin modifiers in Nigerian patients with sickle cell anaemia

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Titilope A. Adeyemo, Oyesola O. Ojewunmi, Idat A. Oyetunji, Helen Rooks, David C. Rees, Adebola O. Akinsulie, Alani S. Akanmu, Swee Lay Thein, Stephan Menzel

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197927
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2018
DOIs
Accepted/In press10 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print7 Jun 2018
Published7 Jun 2018

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Abstract

Genetic variants at three quantitative trait loci (QTL) for fetal haemoglobin (HbF), BCL11A, HBS1L-MYB and the β-globin gene cluster, have attracted interest as potential targets of therapeutic strategies for HbF reactivation in sickle cell anaemia (SCA). We carried out the first systematic evaluation of critical single nucleotide polymorphisms at these disease modifier loci in Nigerian patients with SCA. Common variants for BCL11A and HBS1L-MYB were strongly associated with HbF levels. At both loci, secondary association signals were detected, illustrating the mapping resolution attainable in this population. For BCL11A, the two independent sites of association were represented by rs1427407 (primary site, p = 7.0 x 10−10) and rs6545816 (secondary site, conditioned on rs1427407: p = 0.02) and for HBS1L-MYB by rs9402686 (HMIP-2B, p = 1.23 x 10−4) and rs66650371 (HMIP-2A, p = 0.002). Hap-lotype analysis revealed similarities in the genetic architecture of BCL11A and HBS1L-MYB in Nigerian patients. Variants at both loci also alleviated anaemia. The variant allele for the γ globin gene promoter polymorphism XmnI-HBG2 was too infrequent in our patients to be evaluated in this relatively small study. Studying the large and diverse SCA patient populations in African countries such as Nigeria will be key for a clearer understanding of how these loci work and for the discovery of new disease modifier genes.

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