Molecular aspects of autoimmunity: a review.
Rosenberg WM., Moss PA., Bell JI.
Molecular genetic techniques are being widely applied to the study of autoimmune diseases. Major advances have been made in diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and coeliac disease. Work on experimental models of autoimmune uveitis suggests that similar advances will follow in this field. The application of molecular genetics to the study of immunology has lead to great advances in our understanding of the anatomy of antigen recognition. This work has lead to the identification of some of the structural determinants of antigen binding by MHC molecules and is helping to explain some MHC-disease associations. More recently, molecular studies of the T cell receptor have characterized patterns of T cell receptor expression in humans and have lead to the identification of regions of the T cell receptor critical for antigen recognition. These techniques will hopefully provide insights into the nature of autoimmunity and permit the identification of targets for disease specific immunotherapies. This review describes attempts to corelate MHC structure and function in the context of autoimmunity and discusses some of the strategies for analyzing T cell receptor usage in autoimmune disease.