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J Immunol. 2006 Jan 15;176(2):1090-7.

Aspartic acid homozygosity at codon 57 of HLA-DQ beta is associated with susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis in Cambodia.

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CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


After infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, clinical disease usually remains latent, contained by the host immune response. Although polymorphisms of HLA loci have been hypothesized to play a major role in the breakdown of latency, a functional link has not been established. Molecular-based HLA-typing methods were used to test the association of sets of HLA alleles encoding an aspartic acid at codon 57 of the HLA-DQ beta-chain (HLA-DQ beta57-Asp) with susceptibility to tuberculosis in a cohort of 436 pulmonary tuberculosis patients and 107 healthy controls from Cambodia. HLA class II null cells were transduced with HLA-DQ beta57-Asp or HLA-DQ beta57-Ala and evaluated for their ability to bind peptides from two immunogenic M. tuberculosis specific proteins, ESAT-6 and CFP-10. In this study, we report a highly significant association between progressive pulmonary tuberculosis and homozygosity for HLA-DQ beta57-Asp alleles. The presence of HLA-DQ beta57-Asp resulted in a significantly reduced ability to bind a peptide from the central region of the ESAT-6 protein. Furthermore, when this peptide was presented by an HLA-DQ beta57-Asp allele, Ag-specific IFN-gamma production from CD4+ T cells from tuberculosis patients was significantly less than when this peptide was presented by an HLA-DQ-beta allele encoding an alanine at codon 57. Multiple genetic loci and ethnic-specific factors are likely involved in the human immune response to tuberculosis. The data presented here provide a functional explanation for a highly significant association between an HLA polymorphism and tuberculosis in a highly characterized group of patients with susceptibility to progressive tuberculosis infection in Cambodia.

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