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Identification of TMEM129, encoding a ubiquitin-protein ligase, as an effector gene of osteoarthritis genetic risk

Lookup NU author(s): Abby Brumwell, Guillaume Aubourg, Juhel Hussain Chowdhery, Dr Eleanor Parker, Professor David Deehan, Dr Sarah RiceORCiD, Professor John LoughlinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Osteoarthritis is highly heritable and genome-wide studies have identified single nucleotide poly- morphisms (SNPs) associated with the disease. One such locus is marked by SNP rs11732213 (T > C). Genotype at rs11732213 correlates with the methylation levels of nearby CpG dinucleotides (CpGs), forming a methylation quan- titative trait locus (mQTL). This study investigated the regulatory activity of the CpGs to identify a target gene of the locus. Methods: Nucleic acids were extracted from the articular cartilage of osteoarthritis patients. Samples were geno- typed, and DNA methylation was quantified by pyrosequencing at 14 CpGs within a 259-bp interval. CpGs were tested for enhancer effects in immortalised chondrocytes using a reporter gene assay. DNA methylation at the locus was altered using targeted epigenome editing, with the impact on gene expression determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Results: rs11732213 genotype correlated with DNA methylation at nine CpGs, which formed a differentially methyl- ated region (DMR), with the osteoarthritis risk allele T corresponding to reduced levels of methylation. The DMR acted as an enhancer and demethylation of the CpGs altered expression of TMEM129. Allelic imbalance in TMEM129 expres- sion was identified in cartilage, with under-expression of the risk allele. Conclusions: TMEM129 is a target of osteoarthritis genetic risk at this locus. Genotype at rs11732213 impacts DNA methylation at the enhancer, which, in turn, modulates TMEM129 expression. TMEM129 encodes an enzyme involved in protein degradation within the endoplasmic reticulum, a process previously implicated in osteoarthritis. TMEM129 is a compelling osteoarthritis susceptibility target.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brumwell A, Aubourg G, Hussain J, Parker E, Deehan DJ, Rice SJ, Loughlin J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Arthritis Research & Therapy

Year: 2022

Volume: 24

Online publication date: 08/08/2022

Acceptance date: 28/07/2022

Date deposited: 09/08/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1478-6362

Publisher: BMC


DOI: 10.1186/s13075-022-02882-y

PubMed id: 35941660


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council