Polymorphisms in HLA class II genes are associated with susceptibility to staphylococcus aureus infection in a white population

Gerald N. DeLorenze, Charlotte L. Nelson, William K. Scott, Andrew S. Allen, G. Thomas Ray, Ai Lin Tsai, Charles P. Quesenberry, Vance G. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. Staphylococcus aureus can cause life-threatening infections. Human susceptibility to S. aureus infection may be influenced by host genetic variation. Methods. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) in a large health plan-based cohort included biologic specimens from 4701 culture-confirmed S. aureus cases and 45 344 matched controls; 584 535 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped on an array specific to individuals of European ancestry. Coverage was increased by imputation of >25 million common SNPs, using the 1000 Genomes Reference panel. In addition, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) serotypes were also imputed. Results. Logistic regression analysis, performed under the assumption of an additive genetic model, revealed several imputed SNPs (eg, rs115231074: odds ratio [OR], 1.22 [P = 1.3 × 10-10]; rs35079132: OR, 1.24 [P = 3.8 × 10-8]) achieving genome-wide significance on chromosome 6 in the HLA class II region. One adjacent genotyped SNP was nearly genome-wide significant (rs4321864: OR, 1.13; P = 8.8 × 10-8). These polymorphisms are located near the genes encoding HLA-DRA and HLA-DRB1. Results of further logistic regression analysis, in which the most significant GWAS SNPs were conditioned on HLA-DRB1∗04 serotype, showed additional support for the strength of association between HLA class II genetic variants and S. aureus infection. Conclusions. Our study results are the first reported evidence of human genetic susceptibility to S. aureus infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-823
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015


  • HLA
  • Host genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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