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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Feb 18;94(4):1298-303.

Triplet repeat polymorphism in the transmembrane region of the MICA gene: a strong association of six GCT repetitions with Behçet disease.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Kanazawa-ku, Kanagawa, Japan.


A member of a novel family of the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes termed MIC (MHC class I chain-related genes), MICA, has been recently identified near the HLA-B gene on the short arm of human chromosome 6. The predicted amino acid sequence of the MICA chain suggests that it folds similarly to typical class I chains and may have the capacity to bind peptides or other short ligands. Therefore, MICA is predicted to have a specialized function in antigen presentation or T cell recognition. During nucleotide sequence analyses of the MICA genomic clone, we found a triplet repeat microsatellite polymorphism of (GCT/AGC)n in the transmembrane (TM) region of the MICA gene. In 68 HLA homozygous B cell lines, 5 distinct alleles of this microsatellite sequence were detected. One of them contained an additional one base insertion that created a frameshift mutation resulting in a premature termination codon in the TM region. This particular allele may encode a soluble, secreted form of the MICA molecule. In addition, we have investigated this microsatellite polymorphism in 77 Japanese patients with Behcet disease, which is known to be associated with HLA-B51. The microsatellite allele consisting of 6 repetitions of GCT/AGC was present at significantly higher frequency in the patient group (Pc = 0.00055) than in a control population. Furthermore, the (GCT/AGC)6 allele was present in all B51 positive patients and in an additional 13 B51 negative patients. These results suggest the possibility of a primary association of Behcet disease with MICA rather than HLA-B.

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