Fifty percent of variability in HIV-1 susceptibility is attributable to host genetics. Thus identifying genetic associations is essential to understanding pathogenesis of HIV-1 and important for targeting drug development. To date, however, CCR5 remains the only gene conclusively associated with HIV acquisition. To identify novel host genetic determinants of HIV-1 acquisition, we conducted a genome-wide association study among a high-risk sample of 3,136 injection drug users (IDUs) from the Urban Health Study (UHS). In addition to being IDUs, HIV- controls were frequency-matched to cases on environmental exposures to enhance detection of genetic effects. We tested independent replication in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (N=2,533). We also examined publicly available gene expression data to link SNPs associated with HIV acquisition to known mechanisms affecting HIV replication/infectivity. Analysis of the UHS nominated eight genetic regions for replication testing. SNP rs4878712 in FRMPD1 met multiple testing correction for independent replication (P=1.38×10-4), although the UHS-WIHS meta-analysis p-value did not reach genome-wide significance (P=4.47×10-7 vs. P<5.0×10-8) Gene expression analyses provided promising biological support for the protective G allele at rs4878712 lowering risk of HIV: (1) the G allele was associated with reduced expression of FBXO10 (r=-0.49, P=6.9×10-5); (2) FBXO10 is a component of the Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein E3 ubiquitin ligase complex that targets Bcl-2 protein for degradation; (3) lower FBXO10 expression was associated with higher BCL2 expression (r=-0.49, P=8×10-5); (4) higher basal levels of Bcl-2 are known to reduce HIV replication and infectivity in human and animal in vitro studies. These results suggest new potential biological pathways by which host genetics affect susceptibility to HIV upon exposure for follow-up in subsequent studies.
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