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Title: Investigating single-gene disorders of childhood infectious disease
Author: Mashbat, Bayarchimeg
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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A common feature of infectious diseases, including an infection with Neisseria meningitidis (Nm), is that only a small proportion of the individuals exposed to the same strain of the bacteria suffer from the clinical disease. Host genetics has long been considered to be an important determinant of both predisposition to and severity of outcome from invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). The human complement system is central to protection against IMD. It is well established that individuals with terminal or alternative complement deficiencies are predisposed to invasive, often recurrent meningococcal infections. However, the occurrence of these putative genetic deficiencies is rare, such that complement deficiencies account for less than 3 % of the disease cases. The current study sought to uncover novel genetic aetiologies of IMD, by employing WES and GWAS, in conjunction with molecular functional characterisation assays. Firstly, genetic analysis of six familial IMD exomes revealed a novel mutation in the SPLUNC1 gene. The encoding protein has been shown to play an important role in innate immune defence against a number of Gram-negative bacterial infections. The characterisation assays undertaken in this work suggest that the protein encoded by SPLUNC1 is also implicated with host innate immune defence against Nm infection, by providing protection against nasopharyngeal colonisation of a pathogenic Nm strain. The results further suggest that harbouring rare pathogenic mutations that impact the function of the encoding protein is associated with reduced host defence activities in the resulting protein, which in turn may possibly lead to increased susceptibility to IMD in the carriers. Furthermore, a large-scale GWAS was performed to define common polymorphisms underlying host susceptibility and severity of IMD, using 1236 individuals with confirmed disease and over 5000 controls. In this work, efforts were made to understand the biological plausibility of the genetic associations identified through the GWAS analysis.
Supervisor: Sancho Shimizu, Vanessa ; Levin, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral