The associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in PLA2R1 and HLA-DQA1, as well as HLA-DRB1*15:01-DQB1*06:02 haplotype with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) is well known. However, the primary associations of these loci still need to be determined. We used Japanese-specific SNP genotyping array and imputation using 2,048 sequenced Japanese samples to fine-map PLA2R1 region in 98 patients and 413 controls. The most significant SNPs were replicated in a separate sample set of 130 patients and 288 controls. A two-SNP haplotype of intronic and missense SNPs showed the strongest association. The intronic SNP is strongly associated with PLA2R1 expression in the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) database, and the missense SNP is predicted to alter peptide binding with HLA-DRB1*15:01 by the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB). In HLA region, we performed relative predispositional effect (RPE) tests and identified additional risk alleles in both HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1. We collapsed the risk alleles in each of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 into single risk alleles. Reciprocal conditioning of these collapsed risk alleles showed more residual significance for HLA-DRB1 collapsed risk than HLA-DQB1 collapsed risk. These results indicate that changes in the expression levels of structurally different PLA2R protein confer risk for IMN in the presence of risk HLA-DRB1 alleles.
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