Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the paradigm of a multisystem autoimmune disease in which genetic factors strongly influence susceptibility. Through genome scans and congenic dissection, numerous loci associated with lupus susceptibility have been defined and the complexity of the inheritance of this disease has been revealed. In this review, we provide a brief description of animal models of SLE, both spontaneous models and synthetic models, with an emphasis on the B6 congenic model derived from analyses of the NZM2410 strain. A hypothetical model of disease progression that organizes many of the identified SLE susceptibility loci in three distinct biological pathways that interact to mediate disease pathogenesis is also described. We finally discuss our recent fine mapping analysis, which revealed a cluster of loci that actually comprise the Sle1 locus.
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