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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular basis for the autoreactivity against thyroid stimulating hormone receptor.

The present report identifies an important immunogenic region of the TSH receptor and determinants on the TSH receptor for the two types of autoantibodies seen in hyperthyroid Graves' disease and hypothyroid idiopathic myxedema, TSAbs and TSBAbs, respectively. The immunogenic domain with no important functional determinants, is contained within residues 303-382 and involves residues 352-366 in particular. There are determinants flanking the immunogenic domain on the C-terminal portion of the receptor which are the TSBAb and high affinity TSH binding sites: residues 295-306, 387-395, and tyrosine 385. Determinants on the N-terminal portion of the external domain, centered on residues 38-45, are TSAb interactions linked to low affinity TSH binding important for signal generation: threonine 40 and residues 30-33, 34-37, 42-45, 52-56, and 58-61. These determinants are conserved in human and rat receptors, are not present in gonadotropin receptors, and are each related to separate actions of TSH: binding vs. signal generation. They can, therefore, account for organ specific autoimmunity and the different disease expression effected by TSBAbs vs TSAbs, i.e. hypo- vs. hyperthyroidism, respectively. It is proposed that, in the thyroid, hormonal (TSH, insulin, hydrocortisone, IGF-I) suppression of class I genes might be one means of preserving self-tolerance in the face of the hormone action to increase the expression of tissue specific genes such as thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase. Inappropriately high class I expression in the thyroid, i.e. if induced by interferon, viruses, or some as yet unknown agent, would contribute to the generation of autoimmune disease. Thus, it would result in increased antigen presentation to the immune system, particularly those autoantigens increased by TSH and its cAMP signal such as thyroglobulin or thyroid peroxidase, or whose turnover is increased by TSH and its cAMP signal, such as the TSH receptor. In the case of the latter, peptide 352-366, known to be near a protease sensitive site on the receptor [41,49], would now act as a potent self-antigen and induce the formation of receptor autoantibodies. It is further proposed that methimazole and high doses of iodide are therapeutically effective agents in thyroid autoimmune disease because they, in part, decrease MHC class I gene expression. Speculation is presented which suggests that elimination of negative regulation of MHC class I and the TSH receptor is an important factor in the development of autoimmune thyroid disease.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Molecular basis for the autoreactivity against thyroid stimulating hormone receptor. Kohn, L.D., Kosugi, S., Ban, T., Saji, M., Ikuyama, S., Giuliani, C., Hidaka, A., Shimura, H., Akamizu, T., Tahara, K. Int. Rev. Immunol. (1992) [Pubmed]
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