Human Molecular Genetics, 2010, Vol. 19, No. 17

Fucosyltransferase 2 (FUT2) non-secretor status is associated with Crohn's disease

Dermot P.B.McGovern, Michelle R. Jones, Kent D. Taylor, Kristin Marciante, Xiaofei Yan, Marla Dubinsky, Andy Ippoliti, Eric Vasiliauskas, Dror Berel, Carrie Derkowski, Deb Dutridge, International IBD Genetics Consortium, Phil Fleshner, David Q. Shih, Gil Melmed, Emebet Mengesha, Lily King, Sheila Pressman, Talin Haritunians, Xiuqing Guo, Stephan R. Targan and Jerome I. Rotter


Genetic variation in both innate and adaptive immune systems is associated with Crohn’s disease (CD) susceptibility, but much of the heritability to CD remains unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 896 CD cases and 3204 healthy controls all of Caucasian origin as defined by multidimensional scaling. We found supportive evidence for 21 out of 40 CD loci identified in a recent CD GWAS metaanalysis, including two loci which had only nominally achieved replication (rs4807569, 19p13; rs991804, CCL2/CCL7). In addition, we identified associations with genes involved in tight junctions/epithelial integrity (ASHL, ARPC1A), innate immunity (EXOC2), dendritic cell biology [CADM1 (IGSF4)], macrophage development (MMD2), TGF-b signaling (MAP3K7IP1) and FUT2 (a physiological trait that regulates gastrointestinal mucosal expression of blood group A and B antigens) (rs602662, P 5 3.4 3 1025).

Twenty percent of Caucasians are ‘non-secretors’ who do not express ABO antigens in saliva as a result of the FUT2 W134X allele. We demonstrated replication in an independent cohort of 1174 CD cases and 357 controls between the four primary FUT2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and CD (rs602662, combined P-value 4.90 3 1028) and also association with FUT2 W143X (P 5 2.6 3 1025). Further evidence of the relevance of this locus to CD pathogenesis was demonstrated by the association of the original four SNPs and CD in the recently published CD GWAS meta-analysis (rs602662, P 5 0.001). These findings strongly implicate this locus in CD susceptibility and highlight the role of the mucus layer in the development of CD.