12.05.2021 Detection of autoreactive CD4+ T cells by MHC class II multimers in HLA-linked human autoimmune diseases

Karolin Wieber, Christine L Zimmer and Michael Hertl

Recognition of self-peptides in association with distinct HLA class II alleles by autoreactive CD4+ T cells is central for loss of immunological tolerance leading to autoimmune disease. However, identifying immunodominant self-peptides and characterizing autoreactive T cells is challenging. In this issue of the JCI, Falta et al. identify a disease-associated complementarity-determining region 3β motif specific for beryllium-modified C-C motif ligand 4 (CCL4) and CCL3 self-peptides in patients with chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a granulomatous lung disorder with a known HLA class II allelic association. Detection of these antigen-specific CD4+ T cells by beryllium-pulsed HLA-DP2 tetramers presenting CCL4/CCL3 confirms these autoantigens in humans and mice and enables monitoring in the progress of disease. Detection of autoreactive CD4+ T cells by peptide-MHC class II multimers allows for the detailed characterization of disease-promoting T cells. This knowledge has profound implications for the monitoring and development of targeted therapies in human autoimmune disorders.

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