Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The long and winding road from correlation to causation

Follow-up studies of a Crohn's disease risk locus encompassing IRGM have revealed unexpected complexity. A new study shows that a synonymous variant in the IRGM coding region alters a binding site for miR-196 and modulates IRGM-dependent autophagy, adding to the list of possible mechanisms by which this locus influences disease risk.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Association signals in the 5q33 region from a recently conducted meta-analysis of Crohn's disease.


  1. Franke, A. et al. Nat. Genet. 42, 1118–1125 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brest, P. et al. Nat. Genet. 43, 242–245 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Parkes, M. et al. Nat. Genet. 39, 830–832 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Prescott, N.J. et al. Hum. Mol. Genet. 19, 1828–1839 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bekpen, C. et al. PLoS Genet. 5, e1000403 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Singh, S.B. et al. Science 313, 1438–1441 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Levine, B.. & Deretic, V. Nat. Rev. Immunol. 7, 767–777 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hampe, J. et al. Nat. Genet. 39, 207–211 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Rioux, J.D. et al. Nat. Genet. 39, 596–604 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. McCarroll, S.A. et al. Nat. Genet. 40, 1107–1112 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Singh, S.B. et al. Nat. Cell Biol. 12, 1154–1165 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Takeda, H. et al. RNA 16, 1854–1863 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Momozawa, Y. et al. Nat. Genet. 43, 43–47 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Yamazaki, K. et al. Gut 58, 228–232 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


I am grateful to the international Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Consortium and T. Pastinen for sharing results. Funding for IBD research at the Unit of Animal Genomics was obtained from the Walloon Region (FEDER, Cibles), the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Communauté Française de Belgique (ARC) and the Police Scientifique Fédérale (IAP).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michel Georges.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figure 1 (PDF 114 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Georges, M. The long and winding road from correlation to causation. Nat Genet 43, 180–181 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by

  • Advances in IBD genetics

    • Johan Van Limbergen
    • Graham Radford-Smith
    • Jack Satsangi

    Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology (2014)


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing