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EMBO J. 1997 Mar 3;16(5):1045-55.

RFXAP, a novel subunit of the RFX DNA binding complex is mutated in MHC class II deficiency.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Microbiology, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland.


Major Histocompatibility Complex class II (MHC-II) deficiency is a disease of gene regulation that provides a unique opportunity for the genetic dissection of the molecular mechanisms controlling transcription of MHC-II genes. Cell lines from MHC-II deficiency patients have been assigned to three complementation groups (A, B and C) believed to reflect the existence of distinct essential MHC-II regulatory genes. Groups B and C, as well as an in vitro generated regulatory mutant representing a fourth group (D), are characterized by a specific defect in the binding activity of RFX, a multimeric DNA binding complex that is essential for activation of MHC-II promoters. RFX5, a subunit of RFX, was recently shown to be mutated in group C. We have now isolated a novel gene, RFXAP (RFX Associated Protein), that encodes a second subunit of the RFX complex. RFXAP is mutated in the 6.1.6 cell line (group D), as well as in an MHC-II deficiency patient (DA). This establishes that group D is indeed a fourth MHC-II deficiency complementation group. Complementation of the 6.1.6 and DA cell lines by transfection with RFXAP fully restores expression of all endogenous MHC-II genes in vivo, demonstrating that RFXAP is a novel essential MHC-II regulatory gene.

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