Study elucidates epigenetic mechanisms behind autoimmune diseases

ScienceDaily | 8/2/2018 | Staff
cindy95240 (Posted by) Level 3
The autoimmune regulator or "Aire" gene acting in medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) was recently described as playing an important role in controling "aggressive autoimmunity" -- which is how it is defined when the human immune system sometimes fails to recognize tissue and organs as healthy body parts and attacks them as if they were harmful invaders.

"For the first time, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to block Aire in cultured murine mTECs and to study the effect of loss of this gene's function," said Geraldo Aleixo Passos, coordinator in the research project supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation -- FAPESP.

Professor - Ribeirão - Preto - Medical - School

A professor at Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP) and Ribeirão Preto Dental School (FORP), Passos states that the use of CRISPR/Cas9 opens up important new research prospects in mimicking Aire mutations found in autoimmune disease patients.

"This will greatly facilitate research into the effects of pathogenic Aire mutations," Passos said. "The human and murine genomes are very similar in terms of DNA sequences [over 80% identical], so we can continue using CRISPR/Cas9 on mouse cells to study the mechanisms of aggressive autoimmunity in humans and, in future, maybe try to control them."

Article - Frontiers - Immunology - Results - Study

An article published recently at Frontiers in Immunology shows the main results of the study. Research also derived from a Master thesis by Cesar Augusto Speck-Hernandez in FMRP-USP.

As Passos explained, autoimmune disease is triggered by autoantibodies (antibodies directed against the organism) or by autoaggressive T lymphocytes. These cells, which originate in thymocytes, are "educated" in the thymus (a gland located just behind the sternum in the middle of the chest) not to attack elements of their own organism.

Education - Thymus - T - Body - Organs

When this education fails, the thymus allows autoaggressive T lymphocytes to escape into the body, and they may attack organs such as the adrenal or suprarenal glands (causing APS-1) or the pancreas, where they destroy...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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