Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic, progressive cholestatic liver disease in which intrahepatic bile ducts are destroyed by an autoimmune reaction. Our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified chromosome 11q23.1 as a susceptibility gene locus for PBC in the Japanese population. Here, high-density association mapping based on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) imputation and in silico/in vitro functional analyses identified rs1944919 as the primary functional variant. Expression-quantitative trait loci analyses showed that the PBC susceptibility allele of rs1944919 was significantly associated with increased COLCA1/COLCA2 expression levels. Additionally, the effects of rs1944919 on COLCA1/COLCA2 expression levels were confirmed using genotype knock-in versions of cell lines constructed using the CRISPR/Cas9 system and differed between rs1944919-G/G clones and -T/T clones. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the contribution of COLCA1/COLCA2 to PBC susceptibility.
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