Further evidence supporting a role for gs signal transduction in severe malaria pathogenesis
Auburn S., Fry AE., Clark TG., Campino S., Diakite M., Green A., Richardson A., Jallow M., Sisay-Joof F., Pinder M., Molyneux ME., Taylor TE., Haldar K., Rockett KA., Kwiatkowski DP.
With the functional demonstration of a role in erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum parasites, implications in the aetiology of common conditions that prevail in individuals of African origin, and a wealth of pharmacological knowledge, the stimulatory G protein (Gs) signal transduction pathway presents an exciting target for anti-malarial drug intervention. Having previously demonstrated a role for the G-alpha-s gene, GNAS, in severe malaria disease, we sought to identify other important components of the Gs pathway. Using meta-analysis across case-control and family trio (affected child and parental controls) studies of severe malaria from The Gambia and Malawi, we sought evidence of association in six Gs pathway candidate genes: adenosine receptor 2A (ADORA2A) and 2B (ADORA2B), beta-adrenergic receptor kinase 1 (ADRBK1), adenylyl cyclase 9 (ADCY9), G protein beta subunit 3 (GNB3), and regulator of G protein signalling 2 (RGS2). Our study amassed a total of 2278 cases and 2364 controls. Allele-based models of association were investigated in all genes, and genotype and haplotype-based models were investigated where significant allelic associations were identified. Although no significant associations were observed in the other genes, several were identified in ADORA2A. The most significant association was observed at the rs9624472 locus, where the G allele (approximately 20% frequency) appeared to confer enhanced risk to severe malaria [OR = 1.22 (1.09-1.37); P = 0.001]. Further investigation of the ADORA2A gene region is required to validate the associations identified here, and to identify and functionally characterize the responsible causal variant(s). Our results provide further evidence supporting a role of the Gs signal transduction pathway in the regulation of severe malaria, and request further exploration of this pathway in future studies.