HLA-B27 and disease pathogenesis: new structural and functional insights
Bowness P., Zaccai N., Bird L., Jones EY.
The human leukocyte antigen class I allele HLA-B27 is a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen that is strongly associated with the spondyloarthritic group of human rheumatic diseases, the most commmon of which is ankylosing spondylitis. Although the mechanism underlying this disease association remains unknown, numerous theories have been proposed. Much more is known of the natural role of HLA-B27 in binding and presenting antigenic peptides to T cells. The ‘arthritogenic peptide hypothesis’ suggests that the role of HLA-B27 in disease relates to its specificity for binding certain peptides. Recently, it has also been shown that HLA-B27 has an unusual cell biology and can adopt a novel homodimeric structure. In this review, a molecular model of the HLA-B27 homodimer is presented and the possible pathogenic significance of such a structure is discussed.