Immune mediated diseases pose a significant health burden, and the complexity of these conditions hinder development of targeted therapies. Autoimmune manifestations in primary immune deficiencies (PID) with specific genetic defect can provide a simplified model for autoimmune diseases and allow close examination of the role of specific molecules to establish tolerance and may identify novel strategies for treating immune-mediated diseases. Autoantibody or cytokine signatures and specific biomarkers identified in these models can guide future interventions. We seek to evaluate mechanisms of B cell dysregulation and additional triggers of autoimmunity in a distinct murine model with a rag1 hypomorphic mutation and among patients with Recombinase Activating gene (RAG) defects. Among patients with pathogenic RAG mutations, impairment of RAG activity varies and is associated with clinical and immunological phenotypes broader than previously considered. These range from severe infections and early mortality (SCID, Omenn syndrome) to subtle presentation with late onset granulomatous disease associated with autoimmunity (from mild cytopenias to localized destructive vasculitis). Our published data on a rag1 hypomorph murine model indicated impaired receptor editing (a disruption of central B cell tolerance) and increased levels of B cell activating factor (BAFF) secondary to lymphopenia that might contribute to the rescue of self-reactive B cell in the periphery (a disruption of peripheral tolerance). In addition our preliminary data shows that TLR stimulation mimicking viral infections can further increased the titer and diversity of the autoantibody repertoire. The relative importance of these mechanisms in B cell dysregulation is unclear. Evaluating the autoreactive B cell repertoire at distinct stages of B cell maturation with or without the use of anti- BAFF monoclonal autoantibodies would allow us to compare the relative importance of the disruption in central versus peripheral tolerance mechanisms in RAG-deficient mice. TLR stimulation experiments, mimicking chronic viral infections, may identify additional specific triggers for amplification of autoimmunity. The central goal of this proposal is to achieve detailed knowledge of B cell mediated autoimmunity both in a murine model as well as among humans with RAG mutations. Understanding the pathogenesis of B cell dysregulation in these conditions not only has implications for the treatment of the affected patients, but may also provide insights into mechanisms common to multiple autoimmune diseases.

Public Health Relevance

Self-reactive antibodies and autoimmune manifestations are increasingly recognized as a key feature of primary immunodeficiencies, especially among patients with partial loss of gene function (hypomorphic mutations). Among these patients the clinical and immunological phenotype is broader than previously thought and may include the presence of self-reactive cells or clinical manifestations of autoimmunity ranging from mild disease to destructive autoimmune complications. The generation and characterization of mouse models with hypomorphic mutations provide a unique opportunity to investigate the disruption of central and peripheral tolerance mechanisms, and secondary triggers (such as viral infections) that lead to autoimmunity in primary immunodeficiencies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
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Allergy & Clinical Immunology-1 (AITC)
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Prograis, Lawrence J
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Massachusetts General Hospital
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Goda, Vera; Malik, Aniko; Kalmar, Tibor et al. (2018) Partial RAG deficiency in a patient with varicella infection, autoimmune cytopenia, and anticytokine antibodies. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 6:1769-1771.e2
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