COPA mutations impair ER-Golgi transport and cause hereditary autoimmune-mediated lung disease and arthritis

Levi B. Watkin, Birthe Jessen, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Timothy J. Vece, Max Jan, Youbao Sha, Maike Thamsen, Regie L P Santos-Cortez, Kwanghyuk Lee, Tomasz Gambin, Lisa R. Forbes, Christopher S. Law, Asbjørg Stray-Pedersen, Mickie H. Cheng, Emily M. Mace, Mark S. Anderson, Dongfang Liu, Ling Fung Tang, Sarah K. Nicholas, Karen NahmodGeorge Makedonas, Debra L. Canter, Pui Yan Kwok, John Hicks, Kirk D. Jones, Samantha Penney, Shalini N. Jhangiani, Michael D. Rosenblum, Sharon D. Dell, Michael R. Waterfield, Feroz R. Papa, Donna M. Muzny, Noah Zaitlen, Suzanne M. Leal, Claudia Gonzaga-Jauregui, Eric Boerwinkle, N. Tony Eissa, Richard A. Gibbs, James R. Lupski, Jordan S. Orange, Anthony K. Shum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Unbiased genetic studies have uncovered surprising molecular mechanisms in human cellular immunity and autoimmunity. We performed whole-exome sequencing and targeted sequencing in five families with an apparent mendelian syndrome of autoimmunity characterized by high-titer autoantibodies, inflammatory arthritis and interstitial lung disease. We identified four unique deleterious variants in the COPA gene (encoding coatomer subunit α) affecting the same functional domain. Hypothesizing that mutant COPA leads to defective intracellular transport via coat protein complex I (COPI), we show that COPA variants impair binding to proteins targeted for retrograde Golgi-to-ER transport. Additionally, expression of mutant COPA results in ER stress and the upregulation of cytokines priming for a T helper type 17 (T H 17) response. Patient-derived CD4 + T cells also demonstrate significant skewing toward a T H 17 phenotype that is implicated in autoimmunity. Our findings uncover an unexpected molecular link between a vesicular transport protein and a syndrome of autoimmunity manifested by lung and joint disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-660
Number of pages7
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 27 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'COPA mutations impair ER-Golgi transport and cause hereditary autoimmune-mediated lung disease and arthritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this