Navigation Links
Cracking open the black box of autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis occur when the immune system fails to regulate itself. But researchers have not known precisely where the molecular breakdowns responsible for such failures occur. Now, a team of scientists from the Whitehead Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified a key set of genes that lie at the core of autoimmune disease, findings that may help scientists develop new methods for manipulating immune system activity.

"This may shorten the path to new therapies for autoimmune disease," says Whitehead Member and MIT professor of biology Richard Young, senior author on the paper that will appear January 21 online in Nature. "With this new list of genes, we can now look for possible therapies with far greater precision."

The immune system is often described as a kind of military unit, a defense network that guards the body from invaders. Seen in this way, a group of white blood cells called T cells are the frontline soldiers of immune defense, engaging invading pathogens head on.

These T cells are commanded by a second group of cells called regulatory T cells. Regulatory T cells prevent biological "friendly fire" by ensuring that the T cells do not attack the body's own tissues. Failure of the regulatory T cells to control the frontline fighters leads to autoimmune disease.

Scientists previously discovered that regulatory T cells are themselves controlled by a master gene regulator called Foxp3. Master gene regulators bind to specific genes and control their level of activity, which in turn affects the behavior of cells. In fact, when Foxp3 stops functioning, the body can no longer produce working regulatory T cells. When this happens, the frontline T cells damage multiple organs and cause symptoms of type 1 diabetes and Crohn's disease. However, until now, scientists have barely understood how Foxp3 controls regulatory T cells because they knew almost nothing about the actual genes under Foxp3's purview.

Researchers in Richard Young's Whitehead lab, working closely with immunologist Harald von Boehmer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, used a DNA microarray technology developed by Young to scan the entire genome of T cells and locate the genes controlled by Foxp3. There were roughly 30 genes found to be directly controlled by Foxp3 and one, called Ptpn22, showed a particularly strong affinity.

"This relation was striking because Ptpn22 is strongly associated with type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Graves' disease, but the gene had not been previously linked to regulatory T-cell function," says Alexander Marson, a MD/PhD student in the Young lab and lead author on the paper. "Discovering this correlation was a big moment for us. It verified that we were on the right track for identifying autoimmune related genes."

The researchers still don't know exactly how Foxp3 enables regulatory T cells to prevent autoimmunity. But the list of the genes that Foxp3 targets provides an initial map of the circuitry of these cells, which is important for understanding how they control a healthy immune response.

"Autoimmune diseases take a tremendous toll on human health, but on a strictly molecular level, autoimmunity is a black box," says Young. "When we discover the molecular mechanisms that drive these conditions, we can migrate from treating symptoms to developing treatments for the disease itself."
'"/>

Source:Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Related biology news :

1. Cracking the olfactory code in bees
2. Cracking the perception code
3. Cracking the genetic code for control of gene expression
4. Cracking the egg
5. Scientists identify genes responsible for black rot disease in vegetables
6. Uncovering sex-change secrets of black sea bass
7. Climate change creates dramatic decline in red-winged black bird population
8. New insight into autoimmune disease: Bacterial infections promote recognition of self-glycolipids
9. Immune system has evolved to prevent autoimmune disease
10. Dendritic cells offer new therapeutic target for drugs to treat MS and other autoimmune disease
11. Mystery solved: Golds power against autoimmune diseases defined

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:12/22/2016)... -- As part of its longstanding mission to improve genetic literacy ... released its latest children,s book, titled The One ... topics of inheritance and variation of traits that are part ... school classrooms in the US. The book ... Killoran , whose previous book with 23andMe, You ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... , Dec. 20, 2016 The ... sharing, rental and leasing is stoking significant interest ... radio frequency technology, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), biometrics ... as the next wave of wireless technologies in ... access system to advanced access systems opens the ...
(Date:12/19/2016)... , España y TORONTO , 19 de ... con Northern Biologics Inc. que permitirá el desarrollo acelerado de MSC-1, ... clínicos en varios tipos de tumor en 2017, con múltiples sitios ... ... su clase con objetivo en el factor inhibidor de leucemia (LIF), ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017  Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: ... terminated its agreement with SenesTech Incorporated (NASDAQ: ... a rodenticide being developed by SenesTech. The two firms ... time when the SenesTech product was approved by the ... approval provided that the product could only be used ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... and DURHAM, N.C. , ... IRB in customer service and technology, announces that ... the organization as Biosafety Officer. In ... leadership to develop and manage a forthcoming institutional biosafety ... for research organizations navigating the IBC landscape. The new ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... 2017  Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), ... medicine, today announced positive efficacy results from the ... showed additional motor function improvement at 6-months and ... in AIS-A patients with complete cervical spinal cord ... motor function is critically important to patients with ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 , ... ... waist circumference, and increased serum leptin levels had a positive association with increased ... The study published in the International Neurourology Journal involved 571 Korean men ...
Breaking Biology Technology: