RA Gene Susceptibility Study
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting almost 1% of the world’s population. The cause of this complex disease is still unknown. However, considerable research interest has focused on the appearance of disease specific autoantibodies in RA that recognize a subset of our own proteins that contain an unusual modification called citrulline.
Dr. Fast’s lab is studying the mutations in this gene that may result in changes to the normal activity, regulation, localization, or specificity of its product, an enzyme that catalyzes protein citrullination. He is comparing this enzyme and the mutant enzyme associated with rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility to determine whether these mutations cause changes in the activity or regulation of this important enzyme. He is also synthesizing and studying new small molecules that can inhibit the activity of the enzyme. In the future, these small molecules could potentially be used in the design of new drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.