Table_2_IRF4 and IRGs Delineate Clinically Relevant Gene Expression Signatures in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.DOCX
Introduction: Overactivation of the type I interferon (IFN) signature has been observed in several systemic autoimmune conditions, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Impaired control of Interferon-Responding Genes (IRGs) expression by their regulatory mechanisms, including Interferon Regulatory Factors (IRFs), may underlie these findings and it may explain the heterogeneity observed among these conditions. In the present study we aimed to evaluate the associations between IRF4 gene expression and those of IRGs in SLE and RA patients to gain insight about its links with the IFN signature as well as to explore the potential clinical relevance of these associations.
Methods: The gene expression of IRF4 and IRGs (IFI44, IFI44L, IFI6, and MX1) in peripheral blood was analyzed in 75 SLE patients, 98 RA patients, and 28 healthy controls. A group of 13 biological-naïve RA patients was prospectively followed upon TNFα-blockade. The associations among IRF4 and IRGs were evaluated by principal component analyses (PCA), correlations and network analyses. Publicly available datasets were used for replication.
Results: A broad activation of IRGs was observed in autoimmune patients, although certain heterogeneity can be distinguished, whereas IRF4 was only upregulated in RA. The differential expression of IRF4 in RA was then confirmed in publicly available gene expression datasets. PCA revealed different associations among IRF4 and IRGs in each condition, which was later confirmed by correlation and network analyses. Cluster analysis identified 3 gene expression signatures on the basis of IRF4 and IRGs expression which were differentially used by SLE and RA patients. Cluster III was associated with markers of disease severity in SLE patients. Cluster II, hallmarked by IRF4 upregulation, was linked to clinical stage and mild disease course in RA. TNFα-blockade led to changes in the association between IRF4 and IRGs, whereas increasing IRF4 expression was associated with a good clinical outcome in RA.
Conclusions: The differential expression of IRF4 and IRGs observed in SLE and RA can delineate gene expression signatures associated with clinical features and treatment outcomes. These results support a clinically-relevant phenomenon of shaping of the IFN signature by IRF4 in autoimmune patients.
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