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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Mar 2;96(5):2285-90.

Activation of target-tissue immune-recognition molecules by double-stranded polynucleotides.

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  • 1Cell Regulation Section, Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Abstract

Abnormal expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II in various tissues is associated with autoimmune disease. Autoimmune responses can be triggered by viral infections or tissue injuries. We show that the ability of a virus or a tissue injury to increase MHC gene expression is duplicated by any fragment of double-stranded (ds) DNA or dsRNA introduced into the cytoplasm of nonimmune cells. Activation is sequence-independent, is induced by ds polynucleotides as small as 25 bp in length, and is not duplicated by single-stranded polynucleotides. In addition to causing abnormal MHC expression, the ds nucleic acids increase the expression of genes necessary for antigen processing and presentation: proteasome proteins (e.g., LMP2), transporters of antigen peptides; invariant chain, HLA-DM, and the costimulatory molecule B7.1. The mechanism is different from and additive to that of gamma-interferon (gammaIFN), i.e., ds polynucleotides increase class I much more than class II, whereas gammaIFN increases class II more than class I. The ds nucleic acids also induce or activate Stat1, Stat3, mitogen-activated protein kinase, NF-kappaB, the class II transactivator, RFX5, and the IFN regulatory factor 1 differently from gammaIFN. CpG residues are not responsible for this effect, and the action of the ds polynucleotides could be shown in a variety of cell types in addition to thyrocytes. We suggest that this phenomenon is a plausible mechanism that might explain how viral infection of tissues or tissue injury triggers autoimmune disease; it is potentially relevant to host immune responses induced during gene therapy.

PMID:
10051633
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC26775
Free PMC Article
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