Expression of HLA-DR4 and human CD4 transgenes in mice determines the variable region beta-chain T-cell repertoire and mediates an HLA-DR-restricted immune response.


Inherited susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis is associated with genes encoding the human major histocompatibility complex class II molecule HLA-DR4. To study the immune function of HLA-DR4 and attempt to generate a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis we have produced triple transgenic mice expressing HLA-DRA*0101, -DRB1*0401, and human CD4. The expression of the HLA transgenes is driven by the promoter of the murine major histocompatibility complex class II I-E alpha gene and was found on murine cells that normally display major histocompatibility complex class II molecules. The expression of the human CD4 transgene is driven by the murine CD3 delta-promoter, and therefore its gene product was found on cells that express murine CD3. In contrast to other HLA-DR and HLA-DQ transgenic mouse lines, the transgenes are functional in our mice. In H-2 I-E-negative transgenic mice, T cells expressing variable region beta chain (V beta) 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, or 13 were either absent or significantly reduced, in contrast to H-2 I-E-negative nontransgenic littermates. In addition, the peptide antigen influenza A virus hemagglutinin 307-319, which binds to the HLA-DRA*0101/-DRB1*0401 heterodimer with high affinity and induces an HLA-DR-restricted and CD4+ T-cell response in humans, also induced a T-cell response in the triple transgenic mice but not in nontransgenic littermates. Thus, these transgenic mice should permit extensive testing of the antigen-presentation capabilities of the HLA-DRA*0101/-DRB1*0401 molecule.

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