Invasive bacterial disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in African children. Despite being caused by diverse pathogens, children with sepsis are clinically indistinguishable from one another. In spite of this, most genetic susceptibility loci for invasive infection that have been discovered to date are pathogen specific and are not therefore suggestive of a shared genetic architecture of bacterial sepsis. Here we utilise probabilistic diagnostic models to identify children with a high probability of invasive bacterial disease among critically unwell Kenyan children with P. falciparum parasitaemia. We construct a joint dataset including 1,445 bacteraemia cases and 1,143 severe malaria cases, and population controls, among critically unwell Kenyan children that have previously been genotyped for human genetic variation. Using these data we perform a cross-trait genome-wide association study of invasive bacterial infection, weighting cases according to their probability of bacterial disease. In doing so we identify and validate a novel risk locus for invasive infection secondary to multiple bacterial pathogens, that has no apparent effect on malaria risk. The locus identified modifies splicing of BIRC6 in stimulated monocytes, implicating regulation of apoptosis and autophagy in the pathogenesis of sepsis in Kenyan children.
genetics, genomics, human, infectious disease, microbiology