Humans with the polyendocrine autoimmune disease APECED (or APS-1) harbor mutations in the AIRE gene, which encodes a protein with the structural and functional features of a transcriptional regulatory factor. Mice carrying an engineered null mutation of the a/re locus also develop multi- organ autoimmune disease. Mechanistic studies performed on these mice during the last funding cycle of R01 DK60027 established that aire protects an organism from autoimmunity by promoting the negative selection of differentiating thymocytes. It operates primarily by inducing the expression of transcripts encoding peripheral-tissue antigens, or PTTs, specifically in thymic medullary epithelial cells (MECs). Secondly, it enhances the capacity of MECs to present antigens to T cells and to clonally delete self-reactive thymocytes - via a currently unknown mechanism dissociable from PTT induction. This competitive renewal application proposes to further elucidate these two aspects of aire's mode of action - specifically, we intend: i) to gauge the plasticity of the MEC PTT repertoire; ii) to generalize and localize the antigen-presentation defect exhibited by aire-null MECs; iii) to assess the relevance of aire's role as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. Results from these studies should elucidate critical mechanistic elements of centrally (i.e. thymically) mediated immunological tolerance, potentially improving prospects for preventive or curative therapy for autoimmune diseases such as type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
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Cellular and Molecular Immunology - A Study Section (CMIA)
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Spain, Lisa M
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Harvard University
Schools of Medicine
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Bansal, Kushagra; Yoshida, Hideyuki; Benoist, Christophe et al. (2017) The transcriptional regulator Aire binds to and activates super-enhancers. Nat Immunol 18:263-273
Mathis, Diane; Benoist, Christophe (2016) Promiscuity Promotes Tolerance. J Immunol 196:2913-4
Fujikado, Noriyuki; Mann, Alexander O; Bansal, Kushagra et al. (2016) Aire Inhibits the Generation of a Perinatal Population of Interleukin-17A-Producing ?? T Cells to Promote Immunologic Tolerance. Immunity 45:999-1012
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Meredith, Matthew; Zemmour, David; Mathis, Diane et al. (2015) Aire controls gene expression in the thymic epithelium with ordered stochasticity. Nat Immunol 16:942-9
Giraud, Matthieu; Jmari, Nada; Du, Lina et al. (2014) An RNAi screen for Aire cofactors reveals a role for Hnrnpl in polymerase release and Aire-activated ectopic transcription. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:1491-6
Giraud, Matthieu; Yoshida, Hideyuki; Abramson, Jakub et al. (2012) Aire unleashes stalled RNA polymerase to induce ectopic gene expression in thymic epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:535-40
Mathis, Diane; Benoist, Christophe (2010) Levees of immunological tolerance. Nat Immunol 11:3-6
Koh, Andrew S; Kingston, Robert E; Benoist, Christophe et al. (2010) Global relevance of Aire binding to hypomethylated lysine-4 of histone-3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:13016-21

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