Phenotypic Consequences of β-Defensin Copy Number Variation in Humans
thesisposted on 05.12.2016, 11:49 by Razan Abujaber
Beta defensins (DEFB) at the 8p23.1 genomic location are multifunctional secreted short peptides that have antibacterial and antiviral action in many species and possess immune cell signal activity, constituting a link between innate and adaptive immunity. In humans, the β-defensin region is known to be copy number variable (CNV) and contains seven genes repeated as a block, with a diploid copy number between 1 and 12. This thesis shall explore the structural variability of the β-defensin CNV region; compare and contrast the different methods used for calling DEFB CNVs and investigate the role of CNVs of DEFB in various diseases. One of its aims is to also develop a model system to investigate if DEFB expression levels differ with CN in response to treatment with Pneumolysin by using Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial (NHBE) cells. Results from this thesis confirm that the DEFB CNV region is 322kb in length, with a polymorphic inversion that occurs at a prevalence of 30% at the 8p23.1 genomic location that is independent of the DEFB CN. Paralogue Ratio Test (PRT) proved to be the best method of genotyping DEFB CNV especially in larger cohorts. In addition, work from this thesis also founded the basis of developing an in vitro model system to investigate whether DEFB expression levels differ with CN in response to treatment with pneumolysin by using Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial (NHBE) cells. As far as case/control and cohort studies are concerned, results from this thesis show that DEFB CN is not associated with lung function in the general population and has no effect on patients with COPD and Asthma, nor does it support previous results that present an association between HIV viral load and DEFB CN. DEFB CN was also found not to be associated with recurrent UTIs in VUR patients, nor with hypertension. Data suggested that DEFB CN might be associated with BMI but this has not been reproduced in a smaller cohort.