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Ann Med. 1999 Apr;31(2):111-6.

Cloning of the APECED gene provides new insight into human autoimmunity.

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National Public Health Institute, Department of Human Molecular Genetics, Helsinki, Finland.


Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) is the only autoimmune disease characterized so far that is caused by a defect in a single gene. We have recently isolated the defective gene in this disease by positional cloning and have identified several different mutations in APECED patients. This novel gene, AIRE, contains two plant homeodomain (PHD)-type zinc finger motifs and a newly described putative DNA-binding domain SAND. We have further shown that the protein encoded by the AIRE gene is localized to the nuclear body-like structures of cell nuclei. Similar discrete speckles within the nucleus have been suggested to be involved in the regulation of transcription, oncogenesis and differentiation of cells. Together with the predicted structural features of the APECED protein the new data obtained both in vitro and ex vivo suggest that this protein participates in the regulation of gene expression in a restricted set of tissues and cells.

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