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BMC Med Genomics. 2018 Mar 27;11(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s12920-018-0354-x.

HLA and proteasome expression body map.

Author information

1
TRON gGmbH - Translational Oncology at Johannes Gutenberg, University Medical Center gGmbH, Freiligrathstr 12, Mainz, Germany. seb.boegel@gmail.com.
2
TRON gGmbH - Translational Oncology at Johannes Gutenberg, University Medical Center gGmbH, Freiligrathstr 12, Mainz, Germany.
3
Present address: Agenus Inc, Lexington MA, 02421, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The presentation of HLA peptide complexes to T cells is a highly regulated and tissue specific process involving multiple transcriptionally controlled cellular components. The extensive polymorphism of HLA genes and the complex composition of the proteasome make it difficult to map their expression profiles across tissues.

METHODS:

Here we applied a tailored gene quantification pipeline to 4323 publicly available RNA-Seq datasets representing 55 normal tissues and cell types to examine expression profiles of (classical and non-classical) HLA class I, class II and proteasomal genes.

RESULTS:

We generated the first comprehensive expression atlas of antigen presenting-related genes across 56 normal tissues and cell types, including immune cells, pancreatic islets, platelets and hematopoietic stem cells. We found a surprisingly heterogeneous HLA expression pattern with up to 100-fold difference in intra-tissue median HLA abundances. Cells of the immune system and lymphatic organs expressed the highest levels of classical HLA class I (HLA-A,-B,-C), class II (HLA-DQA1,-DQB1,-DPA1,-DPB1,-DRA,-DRB1) and non-classical HLA class I (HLA-E,-F) molecules, whereas retina, brain, muscle, megakaryocytes and erythroblasts showed the lowest abundance. In contrast, we identified a distinct and highly tissue-restricted expression pattern of the non-classical class I gene HLA-G in placenta, pancreatic islets, pituitary gland and testis. While the constitutive proteasome showed relatively constant expression across all tissues, we found the immunoproteasome to be enriched in lymphatic organs and almost absent in immune privileged tissues.

CONCLUSIONS:

Here, we not only provide a reference catalog of tissue and cell type specific HLA expression, but also highlight extremely variable expression of the basic components of antigen processing and presentation in different cell types. Our findings indicate that low expression of classical HLA class I molecules together with lack of immunoproteasome components as well as upregulation of HLA-G may be of key relevance to maintain tolerance in immune privileged tissues.

KEYWORDS:

Atlas; Autoimmune; Bioinformatics; HLA expression; Human leukocyte antigens; Immunology; NGS; Proteasome; RNA-Seq

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