Susceptibility and protection against human autoimmune diseases, including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Goodpasture disease, is associated with particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles. However, the mechanisms underpinning such HLA-mediated effects on self-tolerance remain unclear. Here we investigate the molecular mechanism of Goodpasture disease, an HLA-linked autoimmune renal disorder characterized by an immunodominant CD4+ T-cell self-epitope derived from the α3 chain of type IV collagen (α3135–145)1,2,3,4. While HLA-DR15 confers a markedly increased disease risk, the protective HLA-DR1 allele is dominantly protective in trans with HLA-DR15 (ref. 2). We show that autoreactive α3135–145-specific T cells expand in patients with Goodpasture disease and, in α3135–145-immunized HLA-DR15 transgenic mice, α3135–145-specific T cells infiltrate the kidney and mice develop Goodpasture disease. HLA-DR15 and HLA-DR1 exhibit distinct peptide repertoires and binding preferences and present the α3135–145 epitope in different binding registers. HLA-DR15-α3135–145 tetramer+ T cells in HLA-DR15 transgenic mice exhibit a conventional T-cell phenotype (Tconv) that secretes pro-inflammatory cytokines. In contrast, HLA-DR1-α3135–145 tetramer+ T cells in HLA-DR1 and HLA-DR15/DR1 transgenic mice are predominantly CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg cells) expressing tolerogenic cytokines. HLA-DR1-induced Treg cells confer resistance to disease in HLA-DR15/DR1 transgenic mice. HLA-DR15+ and HLA-DR1+ healthy human donors display altered α3135–145-specific T-cell antigen receptor usage, HLA-DR15-α3135–145 tetramer+ Foxp3− Tconv and HLA-DR1-α3135–145 tetramer+ Foxp3+CD25hiCD127lo Treg dominant phenotypes. Moreover, patients with Goodpasture disease display a clonally expanded α3135–145-specific CD4+ T-cell repertoire. Accordingly, we provide a mechanistic basis for the dominantly protective effect of HLA in autoimmune disease, whereby HLA polymorphism shapes the relative abundance of self-epitope specific Treg cells that leads to protection or causation of autoimmunity.
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Protein Data Bank
We thank the staff of the Australian Synchrotron (beamline MX1 and MX2) for assistance with data collection and donors of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry for blood samples. This study was supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), 1048575 and 1079648 to A.R.K., 334067 to A.R.K. and S.R.H., and 1071916 to N.L.L.G. N.L.L.G. is supported by a Sylvia and Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship. A.W.P. is supported by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship. J.R. is supported by an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship.
Extended data figures
This file contains peptide repertoires eluted from human BLCLs IHW09013 (DR15+/DR51+) and IHW09004 (HLA-DR1+).
About this article
Clinical Kidney Journal (2019)