Chandra Mohan, professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study, said that identifying IRAK1 as a disease gene may also have therapeutic implications.
Our work also shows that blocking IRAK1 action shuts down lupus in an animal model.
He also said that locating IRAK1 on the X chromosome also represents a breakthrough in explaining why lupus seems to be sex-linked.
Although researchers had found an association between lupus and IRAK1 in previous genetic studies, they failed to find a definite link.
For the current study, the researchers studied five variations of the IRAK1 gene in the subjects, and found that three of the five variants were common in people with either childhood-onset or adult-onset lupus.
For further testing of the link, they took mice of a strain that normally were prone to developing lupus, and engineered them to lack the IRAK1 gene.
It was found that when IRAK1 was absent, the animals lacked symptoms associated with lupus, including kidney malfunction, production of autoimmune antibodies and activation of white blood cells.