The human MHC class II genes are associated with genetic susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the CNS of presumed autoimmune origin. These genes encode for proteins responsible for shaping immune response. The exact role of HLA-DQ and -DR genes in disease pathogenesis is not well-understood due to the high polymorphism, linkage disequilibrium, and heterogeneity of human populations. The advent of HLA class II-transgenic (Tg) mice has helped in answering some of these questions. Previously, using single-Tg mice (expressing the HLA-DR or -DQ gene), we showed that proteblipid protein (PLP)91-110 peptide induced classical experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis only in DR3.Aβ° mice, suggesting that DR3 (DRB1*0301) is a disease susceptible gene in the context of PLP. Human population studies have suggested that HLA-DQ6 (DQBl*0601) may be a protective gene in MS. To test this disease protection in an experimental model, we generated double-Tg mice expressing both HLA-DR3. and -DQ6. Introduction of DQ6 onto DR3-Tg mice led to a decrease in disease incidence on immunization with PLP91-110 peptide indicating a dominant protective role of DQ6. This protective effect is due to high levels of IFN-γ produced by DQ6-restricted T cells, which suppressed proliferation of encephalitogenic DR3-restricted T cells by inducing apoptosis. Our study indicates that DQ6 modifies the PLP91-110 specific T cell response in DR3 through anti-inflammatory effects of IFN-γ, which is protective for experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Thus, our double-Tg mouse provides a novel model in which to study epistatic interactions between HLA class II molecules in MS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy