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Genes Immun. 2002 May;3(3):170-6.

A functional promoter polymorphism in the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) gene associated with disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Laboratory of Medical Biochemistry, The Picower Institute for Medical Research, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


The macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine and regulates the anti-inflammator effects of glucocorticoids. An important role for MIF within the cytokine cascade is to act in concert with endogenous glucocorticoids to control the set-point and magnitude of the inflammatory response. Elevated expression of MIF in the circulation and in the synovial joint has been documented in rheumatoid arthritis. MIF also has been linked to the development of joint damage and disease pathology in experimental animal models. We describe herein a novel CATT-tetranucleotide repeat polymorphism at position -794 of the human Mif gene and show that it functionally affects the activity of the MIF promoter in gene reporter assays. We describe four genotypes which comprise 5, 6, 7, or 8-CATT repeat units and show that the 5-CATT allele has the lowest level of basal and stimulated MIF promoter activity in vitro. The presence of the low expressing, 5-CATT repeat allele correlated with low disease severity in a cohort of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

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