Genetic association between the PRKCH gene encoding protein kinase Cη isozyme and rheumatoid arthritis in the Japanese population




Analyses of families with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have suggested the presence of a putative susceptibility locus on chromosome 14q21–23. This large population-based genetic association study was undertaken to examine this region.


A 2-stage case–control association study of 950 unrelated Japanese patients with RA and 950 healthy controls was performed using >400 gene-based common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).


Multiple SNPs in the PRKCH gene encoding the η isozyme of protein kinase C (PKCη) showed significant single-locus disease associations, the most significant being SNP c.427+8134C>T (odds ratio 0.72, 95% confidence interval 0.62–0.83, P = 5.9 × 10−5). Each RA-associated SNP was consistently mapped to 3 distinct regions of strong linkage disequilibrium (i.e., linkage disequilibrium or haplotype blocks) in the PRKCH gene locus, suggesting that multiple causal variants influence disease susceptibility. Significant SNPs included a novel common missense polymorphism of the PRKCH gene, V374I (rs2230500), which lies within the ATP-binding site that is highly conserved among PKC superfamily members. In circulating lymphocytes, PRKCH messenger RNA was expressed at higher levels in resting T cells (CD4+ or CD8+) than in B cells (CD19+) or monocytes (CD14+) and was significantly down-regulated through immune responses.


Our results provide evidence of the involvement of PRKCH as a susceptibility gene for RA in the Japanese population. Dysregulation of PKCη signal transduction pathway(s) may confer increased risk of RA through aberrant T cell–mediated autoimmune responses.