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1.  CIITA variation in the presence of HLA-DRB1*1501 increases risk for multiple sclerosis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(11):2331-2340.
The MHC class II transactivator gene (CIITA) is an important transcription factor regulating gene required for HLA class II MHC-restricted antigen presentation. Association with HLA class II variation, particularly HLA-DRB1*1501, has been well-established for multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition, the −168A/G CIITA promoter variant (rs3087456) has been reported to be associated with MS. Thus, a multi-stage investigation of variation within CIITA, DRB1*1501 and MS was undertaken in 6108 individuals. In stage 1, 24 SNPs within CIITA were genotyped in 1320 cases and 1363 controls (n = 2683). Rs4774 (missense +1614G/C; G500A) was associated with MS (P = 4.9 × 10−3), particularly in DRB1*1501 +individuals (P = 1 × 10−4). No association was observed for the −168A/G promoter variant. In stage 2, rs4774 was genotyped in 973 extended families; rs4774*C was also associated with increased risk for MS in DRB1*1501+ families (P = 2.3 × 10−2). In a third analysis, rs4774 was tested in cases and controls (stage 1) combined with one case per family (stage 2) for increased power. Rs4774*C was associated with MS (P = 1 × 10−3), particularly in DRB1*1501+ cases and controls (P = 1 × 10−4). Results obtained from logistic regression analysis showed evidence for interaction between rs4774*C and DRB1*1501 associated with risk for MS (ratio of ORs = 1.72, 95% CI 1.28–2.32, P = 3 × 10−4). Furthermore, rs4774*C was associated with DRB1*1501+ MS when conditioned on the presence (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.19–2.37, P = 1.9 × 10−3) and absence (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.15–1.95, P = 2.3 × 10−3) of CLEC16A rs6498169*G, a putative MS risk allele adjacent to CIITA. Our results provide strong evidence supporting a role for CIITA variation in MS risk, which appears to depend on the presence of DRB1*1501.
PMCID: PMC2865376  PMID: 20211854
2.  Interaction Analysis between HLA-DRB1 Shared Epitope Alleles and MHC Class II Transactivator CIITA Gene with Regard to Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32861.
HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles are the strongest genetic determinants for autoantibody positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One of the key regulators in expression of HLA class II receptors is MHC class II transactivator (CIITA). A variant of the CIITA gene has been found to associate with inflammatory diseases.
We wanted to explore whether the risk variant rs3087456 in the CIITA gene interacts with the HLA-DRB1 SE alleles regarding the risk of developing RA. We tested this hypothesis in a case-control study with 11767 individuals from four European Caucasian populations (6649 RA cases and 5118 controls).
We found no significant additive interaction for risk alleles among Swedish Caucasians with RA (n = 3869, attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) = 0.2, 95%CI: −0.2–0.5) or when stratifying for anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) presence (ACPA positive disease: n = 2945, AP = 0.3, 95%CI: −0.05–0.6, ACPA negative: n = 2268, AP = −0.2, 95%CI: −1.0–0.6). We further found no significant interaction between the main subgroups of SE alleles (DRB1*01, DRB1*04 or DRB1*10) and CIITA. Similar analysis of three independent RA cohorts from British, Dutch and Norwegian populations also indicated an absence of significant interaction between genetic variants in CIITA and SE alleles with regard to RA risk.
Our data suggest that risk from the CIITA locus is independent of the major risk for RA from HLA-DRB1 SE alleles, given that no significant interaction between rs3087456 and SE alleles was observed. Since a biological link between products of these genes is evident, the genetic contribution from CIITA and class II antigens in the autoimmune process may involve additional unidentified factors.
PMCID: PMC3312880  PMID: 22461888
3.  High-Density SNP Screening of the Major Histocompatibility Complex in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Demonstrates Strong Evidence for Independent Susceptibility Regions 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(10):e1000696.
A substantial genetic contribution to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk is conferred by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene(s) on chromosome 6p21. Previous studies in SLE have lacked statistical power and genetic resolution to fully define MHC influences. We characterized 1,610 Caucasian SLE cases and 1,470 parents for 1,974 MHC SNPs, the highly polymorphic HLA-DRB1 locus, and a panel of ancestry informative markers. Single-marker analyses revealed strong signals for SNPs within several MHC regions, as well as with HLA-DRB1 (global p = 9.99×10−16). The most strongly associated DRB1 alleles were: *0301 (odds ratio, OR = 2.21, p = 2.53×10−12), *1401 (OR = 0.50, p = 0.0002), and *1501 (OR = 1.39, p = 0.0032). The MHC region SNP demonstrating the strongest evidence of association with SLE was rs3117103, with OR = 2.44 and p = 2.80×10−13. Conditional haplotype and stepwise logistic regression analyses identified strong evidence for association between SLE and the extended class I, class I, class III, class II, and the extended class II MHC regions. Sequential removal of SLE–associated DRB1 haplotypes revealed independent effects due to variation within OR2H2 (extended class I, rs362521, p = 0.006), CREBL1 (class III, rs8283, p = 0.01), and DQB2 (class II, rs7769979, p = 0.003, and rs10947345, p = 0.0004). Further, conditional haplotype analyses demonstrated that variation within MICB (class I, rs3828903, p = 0.006) also contributes to SLE risk independent of HLA-DRB1*0301. Our results for the first time delineate with high resolution several MHC regions with independent contributions to SLE risk. We provide a list of candidate variants based on biologic and functional considerations that may be causally related to SLE risk and warrant further investigation.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and involvement of multiple organ systems. Although the cause of SLE remains unknown, several lines of evidence underscore the importance of genetic factors. As is true for most autoimmune diseases, a substantial genetic contribution to disease risk is conferred by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene(s) on chromosome 6. This region of the genome contains a large number of genes that participate in the immune response. However, the full contribution of this genomic region to SLE risk has not yet been defined. In the current study we characterize a large number of SLE patients and family members for approximately 2,000 MHC region variants to identify the specific genes that influence disease risk. Our results, for the first time, implicate four different MHC regions in SLE risk. We provide a list of candidate variants based on biologic and functional considerations that may be causally related to SLE risk and warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2758598  PMID: 19851445
4.  MHC associations with clinical and autoantibody manifestations in European SLE 
Genes and immunity  2014;15(4):210-217.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous disease affecting multiple organ systems and characterized by autoantibody formation to nuclear components. Although genetic variation within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is associated with SLE, its role in the development of clinical manifestations and autoantibody production is not well defined. We conducted a meta-analysis of four independent European SLE case collections for associations between SLE sub-phenotypes and MHC single-nucleotide polymorphism genotypes, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and variant HLA amino acids. Of the 11 American College of Rheumatology criteria and 7 autoantibody sub-phenotypes examined, anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibody subsets exhibited the highest number and most statistically significant associations. HLA-DRB1*03:01 was significantly associated with both sub-phenotypes. We found evidence of associations independent of MHC class II variants in the anti-Ro subset alone. Conditional analyses showed that anti-Ro and anti-La subsets are independently associated with HLA-DRB1*0301, and that the HLA-DRB1*03:01 association with SLE is largely but not completely driven by the association of this allele with these sub-phenotypes. Our results provide strong evidence for a multilevel risk model for HLA-DRB1*03:01 in SLE, where the association with anti-Ro and anti-La antibody-positive SLE is much stronger than SLE without these autoantibodies.
PMCID: PMC4102853  PMID: 24598797
Sub-phenotype analysis; MHC; meta-analysis; genetics; systemic lupus erythematosus; Europeans
5.  Identification of Two Independent Risk Factors for Lupus within the MHC in United Kingdom Families 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(11):e192.
The association of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) with SLE is well established yet the causal variants arising from this region remain to be identified, largely due to inadequate study design and the strong linkage disequilibrium demonstrated by genes across this locus. The majority of studies thus far have identified strong association with classical class II alleles, in particular HLA-DRB1*0301 and HLA-DRB1*1501. Additional associations have been reported with class III alleles; specifically, complement C4 null alleles and a tumor necrosis factor promoter SNP (TNF-308G/A). However, the relative effects of these class II and class III variants have not been determined. We have thus used a family-based approach to map association signals across the MHC class II and class III regions in a cohort of 314 complete United Kingdom Caucasian SLE trios by typing tagging SNPs together with classical typing of the HLA-DRB1 locus. Using TDT and conditional regression analyses, we have demonstrated the presence of two distinct and independent association signals in SLE: HLA-DRB1*0301 (nominal p = 4.9 × 10−8, permuted p < 0.0001, OR = 2.3) and the T allele of SNP rs419788 (nominal p = 4.3 × 10−8, permuted p < 0.0001, OR = 2.0) in intron 6 of the class III region gene SKIV2L. Assessment of genotypic risk demonstrates a likely dominant model of inheritance for HLA-DRB1*0301, while rs419788-T confers susceptibility in an additive manner. Furthermore, by comparing transmitted and untransmitted parental chromosomes, we have delimited our class II signal to a 180 kb region encompassing the alleles HLA-DRB1*0301-HLA-DQA1*0501-HLA-DQB1*0201 alone. Our class III signal importantly excludes independent association at the TNF promoter polymorphism, TNF-308G/A, in our SLE cohort and provides a potentially novel locus for future genetic and functional studies.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation in a variety of different organs such as the skin, joints, and kidneys. The cause of lupus is not known, but genes play a significant role in the predisposition to disease. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on Chromosome 6 contains at least 100 different genes that affect the immune system, including the genes with the strongest effect on lupus susceptibility. Despite the importance of the MHC in SLE, the identity of the actual genes in the MHC region that cause SLE has remained elusive. In the present study, we used the latest set of genetic markers present at the MHC in lupus families to identify the actual genes that affect the disease. To our knowledge, we have shown for the first time that two separate groups of genes are involved in SLE. One group of genes alters how the immune system may inappropriately target its own tissues in the disease. How the second set of genes predisposes to SLE is the subject of ongoing study.
PMCID: PMC2065882  PMID: 17997607
6.  Relation between HLA typing and clinical presentations in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients in Al-Qassim region, Saudi Arabia 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease with diverse clinical presentations due to interaction between genetic and environmental factors. SLE is associated worldwide with polymorphisms at various loci, including the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), although inconsistencies exist among these studies.
This study was carried out to investigate, the association of HLA-DRB1, DRB3, DRB4, DRB5, and DQB1 alleles in SLE patients and clinical presentations at Qassim, Saudi Arabia.
Fifty one patients with SLE—84.3% of whom had kidney involvement were studied in a case control study for HLA-DRB1, DRB3, DRB4, DRB5, and DQB1.
It was found that DRB3 is a protective gene among Saudi’s against SLE, HLA DRB3, HLA DRB1*11 frequency was increased in patients with serositis with a p value of (0.004), (0.047) respectively, increased frequency of HLA DQB1*3 among SLE patients with skin manifestations with a p value of (0.041), the frequency of HLA DRB1*15 alleles was increased among SLE patients with nephritis with a p value of (0.029), the frequency of HLA DRB1*11 among those with hematological manifestations with a p value of (0.03) and the frequency DRB1*10 was found to be increased among SLE patients with neurological manifestations with a p value of (0.002)
In contradistinction to what have been found among other populations DRB3 is a protective gene among Saudi’s against SLE. No evidence for a role of the HLA-DRB1, DRB4, DRB5, DQB1 alleles. There was an increased HLA DRB3 frequency with serositis, DQB1*3 skin manifestations, HLA DRB1*15 with nephritis, DRB1*10 with hematological manifestations and DRB1*11 with neurological manifestations.
PMCID: PMC4166988  PMID: 25246883
SLE; HLA; Saudi; disease clinical expression; lupus
7.  Transancestral mapping of the MHC region in systemic lupus erythematosus identifies new independent and interacting loci at MSH5, HLA-DPB1 and HLA-G 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(5):777-784.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystem genetically complex autoimmune disease characterised by the production of autoantibodies to nuclear and cellular antigens, tissue inflammation and organ damage. Genome-wide association studies have shown that variants within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region on chromosome 6 confer the greatest genetic risk for SLE in European and Chinese populations. However, the causal variants remain elusive due to tight linkage disequilibrium across disease-associated MHC haplotypes, the highly polymorphic nature of many MHC genes and the heterogeneity of the SLE phenotype.
A high-density case-control single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) study of the MHC region was undertaken in SLE cohorts of Spanish and Filipino ancestry using a custom Illumina chip in order to fine-map association signals in these haplotypically diverse populations. In addition, comparative analyses were performed between these two datasets and a northern European UK SLE cohort. A total of 1433 cases and 1458 matched controls were examined.
Using this transancestral SNP mapping approach, novel independent loci were identified within the MHC region in UK, Spanish and Filipino patients with SLE with some evidence of interaction. These loci include HLA-DPB1, HLA-G and MSH5 which are independent of each other and HLA-DRB1 alleles. Furthermore, the established SLE-associated HLA-DRB1*15 signal was refined to an interval encompassing HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQA1. Increased frequencies of MHC region risk alleles and haplotypes were found in the Filipino population compared with Europeans, suggesting that the greater disease burden in non-European SLE may be due in part to this phenomenon.
These data highlight the usefulness of mapping disease susceptibility loci using a transancestral approach, particularly in a region as complex as the MHC, and offer a springboard for further fine-mapping, resequencing and transcriptomic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3329227  PMID: 22233601
8.  Association of Genetic Variants in Complement Factor H and Factor H-Related Genes with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Susceptibility 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(5):e1002079.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a complex polygenic autoimmune disease, is associated with increased complement activation. Variants of genes encoding complement regulator factor H (CFH) and five CFH-related proteins (CFHR1-CFHR5) within the chromosome 1q32 locus linked to SLE, have been associated with multiple human diseases and may contribute to dysregulated complement activation predisposing to SLE. We assessed 60 SNPs covering the CFH-CFHRs region for association with SLE in 15,864 case-control subjects derived from four ethnic groups. Significant allelic associations with SLE were detected in European Americans (EA) and African Americans (AA), which could be attributed to an intronic CFH SNP (rs6677604, in intron 11, Pmeta = 6.6×10−8, OR = 1.18) and an intergenic SNP between CFHR1 and CFHR4 (rs16840639, Pmeta = 2.9×10−7, OR = 1.17) rather than to previously identified disease-associated CFH exonic SNPs, including I62V, Y402H, A474A, and D936E. In addition, allelic association of rs6677604 with SLE was subsequently confirmed in Asians (AS). Haplotype analysis revealed that the underlying causal variant, tagged by rs6677604 and rs16840639, was localized to a ∼146 kb block extending from intron 9 of CFH to downstream of CFHR1. Within this block, the deletion of CFHR3 and CFHR1 (CFHR3-1Δ), a likely causal variant measured using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, was tagged by rs6677604 in EA and AS and rs16840639 in AA, respectively. Deduced from genotypic associations of tag SNPs in EA, AA, and AS, homozygous deletion of CFHR3-1Δ (Pmeta = 3.2×10−7, OR = 1.47) conferred a higher risk of SLE than heterozygous deletion (Pmeta = 3.5×10−4, OR = 1.14). These results suggested that the CFHR3-1Δ deletion within the SLE-associated block, but not the previously described exonic SNPs of CFH, might contribute to the development of SLE in EA, AA, and AS, providing new insights into the role of complement regulators in the pathogenesis of SLE.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease, associated with increased complement activation. Previous studies have provided evidence for the presence of SLE susceptibility gene(s) in the chromosome 1q31-32 locus. Within 1q32, genes encoding complement regulator factor H (CFH) and five CFH-related proteins (CFHR1-CFHR5) may contribute to the development of SLE, because genetic variants of these genes impair complement regulation and predispose to various human diseases. In this study, we tested association of genetic variants in the region containing CFH and CFHRs with SLE. We identified genetic variants predisposing to SLE in European American, African American, and Asian populations, which might be attributed to the deletion of CFHR3 and CFHR1 genes but not previously identified disease-associated exonic variants of CFH. This study provides the first evidence for consistent association between CFH/CFHRs and SLE across multi-ancestral SLE datasets, providing new insights into the role of complement regulators in the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC3102741  PMID: 21637784
9.  Genomic mapping of the MHC transactivator CIITA using an integrated ChIP-seq and genetical genomics approach 
Genome Biology  2014;15(10):494.
The master transactivator CIITA is essential to the regulation of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class II genes and an effective immune response. CIITA is known to modulate a small number of non-MHC genes involved in antigen presentation such as CD74 and B2M but its broader genome-wide function and relationship with underlying genetic diversity has not been resolved.
We report the first genome-wide ChIP-seq map for CIITA and complement this by mapping inter-individual variation in CIITA expression as a quantitative trait. We analyse CIITA recruitment for pathophysiologically relevant primary human B cells and monocytes, resting and treated with interferon-gamma, in the context of the epigenomic regulatory landscape and DNA-binding proteins associated with the CIITA enhanceosome including RFX, CREB1/ATF1 and NFY. We confirm recruitment to proximal promoter sequences in MHC class II genes and more distally involving the canonical CIITA enhanceosome. Overall, we map 843 CIITA binding intervals involving 442 genes and find 95% of intervals are located outside the MHC and 60% not associated with RFX5 binding. Binding intervals are enriched for genes involved in immune function and infectious disease with novel loci including major histone gene clusters. We resolve differentially expressed genes associated in trans with a CIITA intronic sequence variant, integrate with CIITA recruitment and show how this is mediated by allele-specific recruitment of NF-kB.
Our results indicate a broader role for CIITA beyond the MHC involving immune-related genes. We provide new insights into allele-specific regulation of CIITA informative for understanding gene function and disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0494-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4243378  PMID: 25366989
10.  CIITA is not associated with risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis 
Genes and immunity  2011;12(3):235-238.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II transactivator gene (CIITA) encodes an important transcription factor regulating genes required for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II MHC-restricted antigen presentation. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, particularly HLA class II, are strongly associated with risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Given the strong biological relationship between CIITA and HLA class II genes, a comprehensive investigation of CIITA variation in RA was conducted. This study tested 31 CIITA SNPs in 2542 RA cases and 3690 controls (N = 6232). All individuals were of European ancestry, as determined by ancestry informative genetic markers. No evidence for association between CIITA variation and RA was observed after a correction for multiple testing was applied. This is the largest study to fully characterize common genetic variation in CIITA, including an assessment of haplotypes. Results exclude even a modest role for common CIITA polymorphisms in susceptibility to RA.
PMCID: PMC3449225  PMID: 21248776
rheumatoid arthritis; autoimmunity; CIITA; MHC2TA
11.  IRF-4-Mediated CIITA Transcription Is Blocked by KSHV Encoded LANA to Inhibit MHC II Presentation 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003751.
Peptides presentation to T cells by MHC class II molecules is of importance in initiation of immune response to a pathogen. The level of MHC II expression directly influences T lymphocyte activation and is often targeted by various viruses. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) encoded LANA is known to evade MHC class I peptide processing, however, the effect of LANA on MHC class II remains unclear. Here, we report that LANA down-regulates MHC II expression and presentation by inhibiting the transcription of MHC II transactivator (CIITA) promoter pIII and pIV in a dose-dependent manner. Strikingly, although LANA knockdown efficiently disrupts the inhibition of CIITA transcripts from its pIII and pIV promoter region, the expression of HLA-DQβ but no other MHC II molecules was significantly restored. Moreover, we revealed that the presentation of HLA-DQβ enhanced by LANA knockdown did not help LANA-specific CD4+ T cell recognition of PEL cells, and the inhibition of CIITA by LANA is independent of IL-4 or IFN-γ signaling but dependent on the direct interaction of LANA with IRF-4 (an activator of both the pIII and pIV CIITA promoters). This interaction dramatically blocked the DNA-binding ability of IRF-4 on both pIII and pIV promoters. Thus, our data implies that LANA can evade MHC II presentation and suppress CIITA transcription to provide a unique strategy of KSHV escape from immune surveillance by cytotoxic T cells.
Author Summary
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II is critical for eliciting specific adaptive immune responses against a wide range of pathogenic agents. KSHV as a member of the herpesvirus family has been shown to encode viral proteins for deregulation of the MHC II signaling pathway. In this study, we discovered that a critical viral encoded antigen LANA can significantly reduce MHC II expression by directly targeting CIITA transcription, and that IRF-4 as an activator of the CIITA promoter directly interacts with LANA, which leads to suppression of IRF-4-mediated CIITA expression. Importantly, inhibition of LANA production restores both CIITA and HLA-DQβ, the only one of six MHC II molecules expressed in KSHV-positive PEL cells. This study clearly demonstrates that each MHC II molecule could be precisely deregulated by specific viral antigen to escape from immune surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3814934  PMID: 24204280
12.  Analysis of Maternal–Offspring HLA Compatibility, Parent-of-Origin Effects, and Noninherited Maternal Antigen Effects for HLA–DRB1 in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(6):1712-1717.
Genetic susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is well established, with the HLA class II DRB1 and DQB1 loci demonstrating the strongest association. However, HLA may also influence SLE through novel biologic mechanisms in addition to genetic transmission of risk alleles. Evidence for increased maternal–offspring HLA class II compatibility in SLE and differences in maternal versus paternal transmission rates (parent-of-origin effects) and nontransmission rates (noninherited maternal antigen [NIMA] effects) in other autoimmune diseases have been reported. Thus, we investigated maternal–offspring HLA compatibility, parent-of-origin effects, and NIMA effects at DRB1 in SLE.
The cohort comprised 707 SLE families and 188 independent healthy maternal–offspring pairs (total of 2,497 individuals). Family-based association tests were conducted to compare transmitted versus nontransmitted alleles (transmission disequilibrium test) and both maternally versus paternally transmitted (parent-of-origin) and nontransmitted alleles (using the chi-square test of heterogeneity). Analyses were stratified according to the sex of the offspring. Maternally affected offspring DRB1 compatibility in SLE families was compared with paternally affected offspring compatibility and with independent control maternal–offspring pairs (using Fisher’s test) and was restricted to male and nulligravid female offspring with SLE.
As expected, DRB1 was associated with SLE (P < 1 × 10−4). However, mothers of children with SLE had similar transmission and nontransmission frequencies for DRB1 alleles when compared with fathers, including those for the known SLE risk alleles HLA–DRB1*0301, *1501, and *0801. No association between maternal–offspring compatibility and SLE was observed.
Maternal–offspring HLA compatibility, parent-of-origin effects, and NIMA effects at DRB1 are unlikely to play a role in SLE.
PMCID: PMC2948464  PMID: 20191587
13.  Human cytomegalovirus decreases constitutive transcription of MHC class II genes in mature Langerhans cells by reducing CIITA transcript levels 
Molecular immunology  2011;48(9-10):1160-1167.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) productively infects CD34+ progenitor-derived, mature Langerhans-type dendritic cells (matLC) and reduces surface expression of MHC class II complexes (MHC II) by increasing intracellular retention of these molecules. To determine whether HCMV also inhibits MHC II expression by other mechanisms, we assessed mRNA levels of the class II transcriptional regulator, CIITA, and several of its target genes in infected matLC. Levels of CIITA, HLA-DRA (DRA) and DRB transcripts, and new DR protein synthesis were compared in mock-infected and HCMV-infected cells by quantitative PCR and pulse-chase immunoprecipitation analyses, respectively. CIITA mRNA levels were significantly lower in HCMV-infected matLC as compared to mock-infected cells. When assessed in the presence of Actinomycin D, the stability of CIITA transcripts was not diminished by HCMV. Analysis of promoter-specific CIITA isoforms revealed that types I, III and IV all were decreased by HCMV, a result that differs from changes after incubation of these cells with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Exposure to UV-inactivated virus failed to reduce CIITA mRNA levels, implicating de novo viral gene expression in this effect. HCMV-infected matLC also expressed lower levels of DR transcripts and reduced DR protein synthesis rates compared to mock-infected matLC. In summary, we demonstrate that HCMV infection of a human dendritic cell subset inhibits constitutive CIITA expression, most likely at the transcriptional level, resulting in reduced MHC II biosynthesis. We suggest this represents a new mechanism of modulation of mature LC by HCMV.
PMCID: PMC3086682  PMID: 21458073
Dendritic cells; viral; MHC
14.  A Comprehensive Analysis of Shared Loci between Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Sixteen Autoimmune Diseases Reveals Limited Genetic Overlap 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002406.
In spite of the well-known clustering of multiple autoimmune disorders in families, analyses of specific shared genes and polymorphisms between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases (ADs) have been limited. Therefore, we comprehensively tested autoimmune variants for association with SLE, aiming to identify pleiotropic genetic associations between these diseases. We compiled a list of 446 non–Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of populations of European ancestry across 17 ADs. We then tested these variants in our combined Caucasian SLE cohorts of 1,500 cases and 5,706 controls. We tested a subset of these polymorphisms in an independent Caucasian replication cohort of 2,085 SLE cases and 2,854 controls, allowing the computation of a meta-analysis between all cohorts. We have uncovered novel shared SLE loci that passed multiple comparisons adjustment, including the VTCN1 (rs12046117, P = 2.02×10−06) region. We observed that the loci shared among the most ADs include IL23R, OLIG3/TNFAIP3, and IL2RA. Given the lack of a universal autoimmune risk locus outside of the MHC and variable specificities for different diseases, our data suggests partial pleiotropy among ADs. Hierarchical clustering of ADs suggested that the most genetically related ADs appear to be type 1 diabetes with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease with ulcerative colitis. These findings support a relatively distinct genetic susceptibility for SLE. For many of the shared GWAS autoimmune loci, we found no evidence for association with SLE, including IL23R. Also, several established SLE loci are apparently not associated with other ADs, including the ITGAM-ITGAX and TNFSF4 regions. This study represents the most comprehensive evaluation of shared autoimmune loci to date, supports a relatively distinct non–MHC genetic susceptibility for SLE, provides further evidence for previously and newly identified shared genes in SLE, and highlights the value of studies of potentially pleiotropic genes in autoimmune diseases.
Author Summary
It is well known that multiple autoimmune disorders cluster in families. However, all of the genetic variants that explain this clustering have not been discovered, and the specific genetic variants shared between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases (ADs) are not known. In order to better understand the genetic factors that explain this predisposition to autoimmunity, we performed a comprehensive evaluation of shared autoimmune genetic variants. First we considered results from 17 ADs and compiled a list with 446 significant genetic variants from these studies. We identified some genetic variants extensively shared between ADs, as well as the ADs that share the most variants. The genetic overlap between SLE and other ADs was modest. Next we tested how important all the 446 genetic variants were in our collection with a minimum of 1,500 SLE patients. Among the most significant variants in SLE, the majority had already been identified in previous studies, but we also discovered variants in two important immune genes. In summary, our data identified diseases with common genetic risk factors and novel SLE effects, and this supports a relatively distinct genetic susceptibility for SLE. This study helps delineate the genetic architecture of ADs.
PMCID: PMC3234215  PMID: 22174698
15.  Variation in the ATP-binding cassette transporter 2 gene is a separate risk factor for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus within the MHC 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(4):350-355.
The ATP-binding cassette transporter (TAP) proteins are functionally relevant candidates for predisposition to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) by virtue of their role in autoantigen presentation and location in the MHC. We tested if variation in the TAP genes (TAP1 and TAP2) is associated with SLE. We genotyped tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed family-based association analysis on 390 Caucasian pedigrees. We found significant evidence of association between TAP2 and SLE (rs241453, P = 1.33 × 10-6). Conditional logistic regression analysis suggests that this TAP2 effect is separate from the HLA-DRB1 alleles. Our analyses show that both rs241453 (P = 1.6 × 10-4) and HLA-DRB1*03xx (P = 2.3 × 10-4) have significant autonomous effects not due to linkage disequilibrium. Moreover, these loci exhibit a significant statistical interaction (P < 1.0 × 10-6), demonstrated by an increase in the odds ratio for the TAP2 association from OR = 2.00 (CI=1.17-3.42) in HLA-DRB1*03xx-negative subjects to OR = 4.29 (CI=1.88-9.76) in the subjects with at least one HLA-DRB1*03xx allele group. We report the largest association study of the TAP genes with SLE to date, and the first to test for its separate effect and interaction with the HLA alleles consistently associated with SLE.
PMCID: PMC2927958  PMID: 19387463
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; TAP2; HLA-DRB1; family-based association analysis; conditional logistic regression analysis; interaction analysis
16.  Admixture Mapping in Lupus Identifies Multiple Functional Variants within IFIH1 Associated with Apoptosis, Inflammation, and Autoantibody Production 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003222.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component. African-Americans (AA) are at increased risk of SLE, but the genetic basis of this risk is largely unknown. To identify causal variants in SLE loci in AA, we performed admixture mapping followed by fine mapping in AA and European-Americans (EA). Through genome-wide admixture mapping in AA, we identified a strong SLE susceptibility locus at 2q22–24 (LOD = 6.28), and the admixture signal is associated with the European ancestry (ancestry risk ratio ∼1.5). Large-scale genotypic analysis on 19,726 individuals of African and European ancestry revealed three independently associated variants in the IFIH1 gene: an intronic variant, rs13023380 [Pmeta = 5.20×10−14; odds ratio, 95% confidence interval = 0.82 (0.78–0.87)], and two missense variants, rs1990760 (Ala946Thr) [Pmeta = 3.08×10−7; 0.88 (0.84–0.93)] and rs10930046 (Arg460His) [Pdom = 1.16×10−8; 0.70 (0.62–0.79)]. Both missense variants produced dramatic phenotypic changes in apoptosis and inflammation-related gene expression. We experimentally validated function of the intronic SNP by DNA electrophoresis, protein identification, and in vitro protein binding assays. DNA carrying the intronic risk allele rs13023380 showed reduced binding efficiency to a cellular protein complex including nucleolin and lupus autoantigen Ku70/80, and showed reduced transcriptional activity in vivo. Thus, in SLE patients, genetic susceptibility could create a biochemical imbalance that dysregulates nucleolin, Ku70/80, or other nucleic acid regulatory proteins. This could promote antibody hypermutation and auto-antibody generation, further destabilizing the cellular network. Together with molecular modeling, our results establish a distinct role for IFIH1 in apoptosis, inflammation, and autoantibody production, and explain the molecular basis of these three risk alleles for SLE pathogenesis.
Author Summary
African-Americans (AA) are at increased risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the genetic basis of this risk increase is largely unknown. We used admixture mapping to localize disease-causing genetic variants that differ in frequency across populations. This approach is advantageous for localizing susceptibility genes in recently admixed populations like AA. Our genome-wide admixture scan identified seven admixture signals, and we followed the best signal at 2q22–24 with fine-mapping, imputation-based association analysis and experimental validation. We identified two independent coding variants and a non-coding variant within the IFIH1 gene associated with SLE. Together with molecular modeling, our results establish a distinct role for IFIH1 in apoptosis, inflammation, and autoantibody production, and explain the molecular basis of these three risk alleles for SLE pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3575474  PMID: 23441136
17.  Histone Deacetylase 1/mSin3A Disrupts Gamma Interferon-Induced CIITA Function and Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Enhanceosome Formation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(9):3091-3102.
The class II transactivator (CIITA) is a master transcriptional regulator of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) promoters. CIITA does not bind DNA, but it interacts with the transcription factors RFX5, NF-Y, and CREB and associated chromatin-modifying enzymes to form an enhanceosome. This report examines the effects of histone deacetylases 1 and 2 (HDAC1/HDAC2) on MHC-II gene induction by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and CIITA. The results show that an inhibitor of HDACs, trichostatin A, enhances IFN-γ-induced MHC-II expression, while HDAC1/HDAC2 inhibits IFN-γ- and CIITA-induced MHC-II gene expression. mSin3A, a corepressor of HDAC1/HDAC2, is important for this inhibition, while NcoR, a corepressor of HDAC3, is not. The effect of this inhibition is directed at CIITA, since HDAC1/HDAC2 reduces transactivation by a GAL4-CIITA fusion protein. CIITA binds to overexpressed and endogenous HDAC1, suggesting that HDAC and CIITA may affect each other by direct or indirect association. Inhibition of HDAC activity dramatically increases the association of NF-YB and RFX5 with CIITA, the assembly of CIITA, NF-YB, and RFX5 enhanceosome, and the extent of H3 acetylation at the MHC-II promoter. These results suggest a model where HDAC1/HDAC2 affect the function of CIITA through a disruption of MHC-II enhanceosome and relevant coactivator-transcription factor association and provide evidence that CIITA may act as a molecular switch to modulate MHC-II transcription by coordinating the functions of both histone acetylases and HDACs.
PMCID: PMC153210  PMID: 12697811
18.  A study of the association of HLA DR, DQ, and complement C4 alleles with systemic lupus erythematosus in Iceland 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(8):503-505.
OBJECTIVE—To perform an exploratory analysis of the relative contribution of single MHC genes to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in a homogenous white population.
METHODS—MHC class II alleles and C4 allotypes were determined in 64 SLE patients and in ethnically matched controls. HLA-DR and DQ typing was performed by polymerase chain reaction amplification with sequence specific primers. C4 allotypes were determined by agarose gel electrophoresis.
RESULTS—The frequency of C4A*Q0 was significantly higher in patients than in controls (46.9% v 25.3%, p=0.002). HLA-DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1 alleles in the whole group of SLE patients were not significantly different from those of controls. On the other hand increase in DRB1*03 was observed in the group of patients with C4A*Q0, as compared with patients with other C4A allotypes (p=0.047). There was no significant correlation between severe and mild disease, as judged by the SLEDAI, and HLADR, DQ alleles and comparing the patients with C4A*Q0 with those with other C4A allotypes there was no significant difference regarding clinical manifestations.
CONCLUSION—The results are consistent with the argument that C4A deficiency contributes independently to susceptibility and the pathogenesis of SLE. C4A*Q0 in SLE patients in Iceland shows weaker linkage disequilibrium with DR3 genes than reported in most other white populations and emphasises the role of ethnicity.

 Keywords: systemic lupus erythematosus; HLA; C4 allele; disease associations
PMCID: PMC1752717  PMID: 9797559
19.  Class II Transactivator (CIITA) Enhances Cytoplasmic Processing of HIV-1 Pr55Gag 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11304.
The Pr55gag (Gag) polyprotein of HIV serves as a scaffold for virion assembly and is thus essential for progeny virion budding and maturation. Gag localizes to the plasma membrane (PM) and membranes of late endosomes, allowing for release of infectious virus directly from the cell membrane and/or upon exocytosis. The host factors involved in Gag trafficking to these sites are largely unknown. Upon activation, CD4+ T cells, the primary target of HIV infection, express the class II transcriptional activator (CIITA) and therefore the MHC class II isotype, HLA-DR. Similar to Gag, HLA-DR localizes to the PM and at the membranes of endosomes and specialized vesicular MHC class II compartments (MIICs). In HIV producer cells, transient HLA-DR expression induces intracellular Gag accumulation and impairs virus release.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we demonstrate that both stable and transient expression of CIITA in HIV producer cells does not induce HLA-DR-associated intracellular retention of Gag, but does increase the infectivity of virions. However, neither of these phenomena is due to recapitulation of the class II antigen presentation pathway or CIITA-mediated transcriptional activation of virus genes. Interestingly, we demonstrate that CIITA, apart from its transcriptional effects, acts cytoplasmically to enhance Pr160gag-pol (Gag-Pol) levels and thereby the viral protease and Gag processing, accounting for the increased infectivity of virions from CIITA-expressing cells.
This study demonstrates that CIITA enhances HIV Gag processing, and provides the first evidence of a novel, post-transcriptional, cytoplasmic function for a well-known transactivator.
PMCID: PMC2892040  PMID: 20585587
20.  Dysregulated Recruitment of the Histone Methyltransferase EZH2 to the Class II Transactivator (CIITA) Promoter IV in Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36013.
One mechanism frequently utilized by tumor cells to escape immune system recognition and elimination is suppression of cell surface expression of Major Histocompatibility Class II (MHC II) molecules. Expression of MHC II is regulated primarily at the level of transcription by the Class II Transactivator, CIITA, and decreased CIITA expression is observed in multiple tumor types. We investigate here contributions of epigenetic modifications to transcriptional silencing of CIITA in variants of the human breast cancer cell line MDA MB 435. Significant increases in histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation upon IFN-γ stimulation correlate with reductions in transcription factor recruitment to the interferon-γ inducible CIITA promoter, CIITApIV, and with significantly increased CIITApIV occupancy by the histone methyltransferase enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2). Most compelling is evidence that decreased expression of EZH2 in MDA MB 435 variants results in significant increases in CIITA and HLA-DRA mRNA expression, even in the absence of interferon-γ stimulation, as well as increased cell surface expression of MHC II. Together, these data add mechanistic insight to prior observations of increased EZH2 expression and decreased CIITA expression in multiple tumor types.
PMCID: PMC3338556  PMID: 22563434
21.  Polymorphisms in the Inflammatory Genes CIITA, CLEC16A and IFNG Influence BMD, Bone Loss and Fracture in Elderly Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47964.
Osteoclast activity and the fine balance between bone formation and resorption is affected by inflammatory factors such as cytokines and T lymphocyte activity, mediated by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, in turn regulated by the MHC class II transactivator (MHC2TA). We investigated the effect of functional polymorphisms in the MHC2TA gene (CIITA), and two additional genes; C-type lectin domain 16A (CLEC16A), in linkage disequilibrium with CIITA and Interferon-γ (IFNG), an inducer of CIITA; on bone density, bone resorption markers, bone loss and fracture risk in 75 year-old women followed for up to 10 years (OPRA n = 1003) and in young adult women (PEAK-25 n = 999). CIITA was associated with BMD at age 75 (lumbar spine p = 0.011; femoral neck (FN) p = 0.049) and age 80 (total body p = 0.015; total hip p = 0.042; FN p = 0.028). Carriers of the CIITA rs3087456(G) allele had 1.8–3.4% higher BMD and displayed increased rate of bone loss between age 75 and 80 (FN p = 0.013; total hip p = 0.030; total body p = 3.8E−5). Despite increasing bone loss, the rs3087456(G) allele was protective against incident fracture overall (p = 0.002), osteoporotic fracture and hip fracture. Carriers of CLEC16A and IFNG variant alleles had lower BMD (p<0.05) and ultrasound parameters and a lower risk of incident fracture (CLEC16A, p = 0.011). In 25-year old women, none of the genes were associated with BMD. In conclusion, variation in inflammatory genes CIITA, CLEC-16A and INFG appear to contribute to bone phenotypes in elderly women and suggest a role for low-grade inflammation and MHC class II expression for osteoporosis pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3485004  PMID: 23133532
22.  Human Leukocyte Antigens and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Protective Role for the HLA-DR6 Alleles DRB1*13:02 and *14:03 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87792.
Many studies on associations between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele frequencies and susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been performed. However, few protective associations with HLA-DRB1 alleles have been reported. Here, we sought protective, as well as predispositional, alleles of HLA-DRB1 in Japanese SLE patients. An association study was conducted for HLA-DRB1 in Japanese SLE patients. Relative predispositional effects were analyzed by sequential elimination of carriers of each allele with the strongest association. We also explored the association of DRB1 alleles with SLE phenotypes including the presence of autoantibody and clinical manifestations. Significantly different carrier frequencies of certain DRB1 alleles were found to be associated with SLE as follows: increased DRB1*15:01 (P = 5.48×10−10, corrected P (Pc) = 1.59×10−8, odds ratio [OR] 2.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.69–2.79), decreased DRB1*13:02 (P = 7.17×10−5, Pc = 0.0020, OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.34–0.63) and decreased DRB1*14:03 (P = 0.0010, Pc = 0.0272, OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.18–0.63). Additionally, the “*15:01/*13:02 or *14:03” genotype tended to be negatively associated with SLE (P = 0.4209, OR 0.66), despite there being significant positive associations with *15:01 when present together with alleles other than *13:02 or *14:03 (P = 1.79×10−11, OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.84–3.10). This protective effect of *13:02 and *14:03 was also confirmed in SLE patients with different clinical phenotypes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a protective association between the carrier frequencies of HLA-DRB1*13:02 and *14:03 and SLE in the Japanese population.
PMCID: PMC3912000  PMID: 24498373
23.  Evaluation of imputation-based association in and around the integrin-α-M (ITGAM) gene and replication of robust association between a non-synonymous functional variant within ITGAM and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(6):1171-1180.
We recently identified a novel non-synonymous variant, rs1143679, at exon 3 of the ITGAM gene associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility in European-Americans (EAs) and African-Americans. Using genome-wide association approach, three other studies also independently reported an association between SLE susceptibility and ITGAM or ITGAM-ITGAX region. The primary objectives of this study are to assess whether single or multiple causal variants from the same gene or any nearby gene(s) are involved in SLE susceptibility and to confirm a robust ITGAM association across nine independent data sets (n = 8211). First, we confirmed our previously reported association of rs1143679 (risk allele ‘A’) with SLE in EAs (P = 1.0 × 10−8) and Hispanic-Americans (P = 2.9 × 10−5). Secondly, using a comprehensive imputation-based association test, we found that ITGAM is one of the major non-human leukocyte antigen susceptibility genes for SLE, and the strongest association for EA is the same coding variant rs1143679 (log10Bayes factor=20, P = 6.17 × 10−24). Thirdly, we determined the robustness of rs1143679 association with SLE across three additional case–control samples, including UK (P = 6.2 × 10−8), Colombian (P = 3.6 × 10−7), Mexican (P = 0.002), as well as two independent sets of trios from UK (PTDT = 1.4 × 10−5) and Mexico (PTDT = 0.015). A meta-analysis combing all independent data sets greatly reinforces the association (Pmeta = 7.1 × 10−50, odds ratio = 1.83, 95% confidence interval = 1.69–1.98, n = 10 046). However, this ITGAM association was not observed in the Korean or Japanese samples, in which rs1143679 is monomorphic for the non-risk allele (G). Taken together along with our earlier findings, these results demonstrate that the coding variant, rs1143679, best explains the ITGAM-SLE association, especially in European- and African-derived populations, but not in Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC2649018  PMID: 19129174
24.  Confirmation of an Association Between rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 Region and Multiple Autoimmune Diseases 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):323-329.
Autoimmune diseases often have susceptibility genes in common, indicating similar molecular mechanisms. Increasing evidence suggests that rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 region is strongly associated with multiple autoimmune diseases in individuals of European descent. This study was undertaken to attempt to replicate the association between rs6822844 and 6 different immune-mediated diseases in non-European populations, and to perform disease-specific and overall meta-analyses using data from previously published studies.
We evaluated case–control associations between rs6822844 and celiac disease (CD) in subjects from Argentina; rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in subjects from Colombia; and Behçet's disease (BD) in subjects from Turkey. Allele and gene distributions were compared between cases and controls. Meta-analyses were performed using data from the present study and previous studies.
We detected significant associations of rs6822844 with SLE (P = 0.008), type 1 DM (P = 0.014), RA (P = 0.019), and primary SS (P = 0.033) but not with BD (P = 0.34) or CD (P = 0.98). We identified little evidence of population differentiation (FST = 0.01) within cases and controls from Argentina and Colombia, suggesting that association was not influenced by population substructure. Disease-specific meta-analysis indicated significant association for RA (Pmeta = 3.61 × 10–6), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) (Pmeta = 3.48 × 10–12), type 1 DM (Pmeta = 5.33 × 10–5), and CD (Pmeta = 5.30 × 10–3). Overall meta-analysis across all autoimmune diseases reinforced association with rs6822844 (23 data sets; Pmeta = 2.61 × 10–25, odds ratio 0.73 [95% confidence interval 0.69–0.78]).
Our results indicate that there is an association between rs6822844 and multiple auto-immune diseases in non-European populations. Meta-analysis results strongly reinforce this robust association across multiple autoimmune diseases in both European-derived and non-European populations.
PMCID: PMC3028384  PMID: 20112382
25.  Absent in Melanoma 2 (AIM2) is an important mediator of interferon-dependent and -independent HLA-DRA and HLA-DRB gene expression in colorectal cancers 
Oncogene  2011;31(10):1242-1253.
Absent in Melanoma 2 (AIM2) is a member of the HIN-200 family of hematopoietic, IFN-inducible, nuclear proteins, associated with both, infection defense and tumor pathology. Recently, AIM2 was found to act as a DNA sensor in innate immunity. In addition, we and others have previously demonstrated a high frequency of AIM2-alterations in microsatellite unstable (MSI-H) tumors. To further elucidate AIM2 function in colorectal tumors, we here addressed AIM2-responsive target genes by microarray based gene expression profiling of 22 244 human genes. A total of 111 transcripts were significantly upregulated, whereas 80 transcripts turned out to be significantly downregulated in HCT116 cells, constitutively expressing AIM2, compared with AIM2-negative cells. Among the upregulated genes that were validated by quantitative PCR and western blotting we recognized several interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs: IFIT1, IFIT2, IFIT3, IFI6, IRF7, ISG15, HLA-DRA, HLA-DRB, TLR3 and CIITA), as well as genes involved in intercellular adhesion and matrix remodeling. Expression of ISGs correlated with expression of AIM2 in 10 different IFN-γ treated colorectal cancer cell lines. Moreover, small interfering RNA-mediated knock-down of AIM2 resulted in reduced expression of HLA-DRA, HLA-DRB and CIITA in IFN-γ-treated cells. IFN-γ independent induction of HLA-DR genes and their encoded proteins was also demonstrated upon doxycyclin-regulated transient induction of AIM2. Luciferase reporter assays revealed induction of the HLA-DR promoter upon AIM2 transfection in different cell lines. STAT-signaling was not involved in IFN-γ independent induction of ISGs, arguing against participation of cytokines released in an autostimulating manner. Our data indicate that AIM2 mediates both IFN-γ dependent and independent induction of several ISGs, including genes encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens HLA-DR-α and -β. This suggests a novel role of the IFN/AIM2/ISG cascade likewise in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3307062  PMID: 21804607
IFN-gamma; AIM2; HLA class II; tumor immunity; interferon-stimulated genes; ISG

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