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Mol Immunol. 2014 Jan;57(1):52-8. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2013.05.243. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

The biochemistry and immunology of non-canonical forms of HLA-B27.

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Botnar Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University, Windmill Road, Oxford OX3 7LD, United Kingdom.


HLA-B27 (B27) is strongly associated with the spondyloarthritides. B27 is expressed at the cell surface of antigen presenting cells (APC) both as canonical β2m-associated and non-canonical β2m-free heavy chain (FHC) forms which include B27 dimers (termed B272). B27 FHC forms arise in an endosomal compartment from recycling β2m-associated B27. Formation of cell surface FHC dimers is critically dependent on an unpaired reactive cysteine 67 in the α1 helix of the class I heavy chain. HLA-B27 also form redox-inducible β2m-associated dimers on exosomes and apoptosing cells. By contrast with cell surface expressed cysteine 67-dependent heavy chain dimers these dimers are dependent on a cytoplasmic cysteine 325 for their formation. HLA-B27 binds to immunoregulatory receptors including members of the Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like (KIR) and Leukocyte Immunoglobulin-like receptor family. B27 FHC bind to different but overlapping sets of these immunoreceptors compared to classical β2m-associated HLA-B27. B27 FHC bind more strongly to KIR3DL2 and LILRB2 immune receptor than other β2m-associated HLA-class I ligands. Genetic studies have implicated genes which control production of the important proinflammatory cytokine IL-17 in the pathogenesis of spondyloarthritis. Cell surface HLA-B27 FHC binding to these immune receptors or acting through other mechanisms could impact on the pathogenesis of spondyloarthritis by promoting immune cell production of IL-17. Here we review the literature on these non-canonical forms of HLA-B27 and the immune receptors they bind to and discuss the possible relevance of these interactions to the pathogenesis of spondyloarthropathy.


HLA-B27; IL-17; IL-23 receptor; KIR3DL2; LILRB2; Spondyloarthritis

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