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Science. 2002 Nov 15;298(5597):1395-401. Epub 2002 Oct 10.

Projection of an immunological self shadow within the thymus by the aire protein.

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  • 1Section on Immunology and Immunogenetics, Joslin Diabetes Center; Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Harvard Medical School, 1 Joslin Place, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Abstract

Humans expressing a defective form of the transcription factor AIRE (autoimmune regulator) develop multiorgan autoimmune disease. We used aire- deficient mice to test the hypothesis that this transcription factor regulates autoimmunity by promoting the ectopic expression of peripheral tissue- restricted antigens in medullary epithelial cells of the thymus. This hypothesis proved correct. The mutant animals exhibited a defined profile of autoimmune diseases that depended on the absence of aire in stromal cells of the thymus. Aire-deficient thymic medullary epithelial cells showed a specific reduction in ectopic transcription of genes encoding peripheral antigens. These findings highlight the importance of thymically imposed "central" tolerance in controlling autoimmunity.

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PMID:
12376594
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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