HLA , CTLA-4 and PTPN22 : the shared genetic master-key to autoimmunity?
Brand O., Gough S., Heward J.
Several genetic loci appear to be involved in susceptibility to autoimmune disease. Some loci are disease specific, whereas others appear to exert a general effect on the autoimmune disease process. Despite a large number of studies of many different diseases, consistent associations with multiple autoimmune disorders have been restricted to three gene regions: the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II region on chromosome 6p21, the gene encoding cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated 4 (CTLA-4) on chromosome 2q33, and the PTPN22 gene encoding lymphoid tyrosine phosphatase (LYP) on chromosome 1p13. Each of these loci is likely to encode molecules that are crucial in the immune cascade and are actively involved in T-cell activation. Moreover, gene polymorphisms that affect function might contribute to the triggering of autoimmune disease by as-yet-unknown mechanisms. This review summarises recent developments and current understanding of the way in which molecules encoded by these susceptibility loci contribute to T-cell activation, and hypothesises how aberrant function of these molecules might trigger autoimmunity.