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This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1% of the population worldwide. Previously, we showed that human T-cell leukemia virus type I-transgenic mice and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist-knockout mice develop autoimmunity and joint-specific inflammation that resembles human RA. To identify genes involved in the pathogenesis of arthritis, we analyzed the gene expression profiles of these animal models by using high-density oligonucleotide arrays. We found 1,467 genes that were differentially expressed from the normal control mice by greater than threefold in one of these animal models. The gene expression profiles of the two models correlated well. We extracted 554 genes whose expression significantly changed in both models, assuming that pathogenically important genes at the effector phase would change in both models. Then, each of these commonly changed genes was mapped into the whole genome in a scale of the 1-megabase pairs. We found that the transcriptome map of these genes did not distribute evenly on the chromosome but formed clusters. These identified gene clusters include the major histocompatibility complex class I and class II genes, complement genes, and chemokine genes, which are well known to be involved in the pathogenesis of RA at the effector phase. The activation of these gene clusters suggests that antigen presentation and lymphocyte chemotaxisis are important for the development of arthritis. Moreover, by searching for such clusters, we could detect genes with marginal expression changes. These gene clusters include schlafen and membrane-spanning four-domains subfamily A genes whose function in arthritis has not yet been determined. Thus, by combining two etiologically different RA models, we succeeded in efficiently extracting genes functioning in the development of arthritis at the effector phase. Furthermore, we demonstrated that identification of gene clusters by transcriptome mapping is a useful way to find potentially pathogenic genes among genes whose expression change is only marginal.