The focus of my lab is to study the genetics and epigenetics of complex autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including the role of genetic-epigenetic interaction in disease etiology. We have previously characterized the DNA methylome in normal human CD4+ T cells, and genome-wide DNA methylation changes in T cells from lupus patients. Our studies in genetics have identified and replicated novel susceptibility loci for lupus, including MECP2, which regulates DNA methylation and the expression of methylation-sensitive genes. More recently, we have characterized the functional consequences of this disease-associated locus using human samples and animal models. We are interested in expanding our efforts to understand the DNA methyolome in lupus and in other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, through this research initiative.
Hughes T, Webb R, Fei Y, Wren J, Sawalha AH. DNA methylome in human CD4+ T cells identifies transcriptionally permissive methylation peaks. Genes and Immunity. 2010 May 13
Jeffries M, Dozmorov M, Tang Y, Merrill JT, Wren JD, Sawalha AH. Genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in CD4+ T cells from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Epigenetics. 2011;6(5):593-601.
Hughes T, Sawalha AH. The Role of Epigenetic Variation in the pathogenesis of Systemic lupus erythematosus (Invited review). Arthritis Research and Therapy. 2011;13(5):245.
Sawalha AH, Wang L, Nadig A, Somers EC, McCune WJ, the Michigan Lupus Cohort, Hughes T, Merrill JT, Scofield RH, Strickland F, Richardson B. Sex-specific differences in the relationship between genetic susceptibility, T cell DNA demethylation and lupus flare severity. Journal of Autoimmunity. 2012 May;38(2-3):J216-22.
Hughes T, Adler A, Merrill JT, Kelly JA, Kaufman KM, Williams A, Langefeld CD, Gilkeson GS, Sanchez E, Martin J, Boackle SA, Stevens AM, AlarcÌ_n GS, Niewold TB, Brown EE, Kimberly RP, Edberg JC, Ramsey-Goldman R, Petri M, Reveille JD, Criswell LA, VilÌÁ LM, Jacob CO, Gaffney PM, Moser KL, Vyse TJ, AlarcÌ_n-Riquelme ME on behalf of the BIOLUPUS network, James JA, Tsao BP, Scofield RH, Harley JB, Richardson BC, Sawalha AH. Analysis of autosomal genes reveals gene-sex interactions and higher total genetic risk in men with systemic lupus erythematosus. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2011 Nov 21.