NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 25 - A gene induced by interferon, called IFI-202, is highly correlated with the development of lupus in mice, Dr. Brian L. Kotzin, director of the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence at the University of Colorado, told a gathering of lupus researchers in New York this week.
Working with a mouse model of lupus, his laboratory mapped a region of the mouse chromosome that harbors the lupus gene. "We bred this one region from a lupus mouse onto a normal mouse and did a gene chip screen to see if there were any differences between the two," he explained in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. "We came up with one gene, and it localized into the middle of the lupus gene region, and it turned out to be an interferon-inducible gene that controls cell regulation."
This gene appears to inhibit lymphocytes from dying and "our theory is that they go on to develop into autoreactive lymphocytes and help produce the disease."
"In both human and mouse lupus, we know that interferons are really important for the disease process; if you can block interferon, you can block the disease. So we think that this gene is one of the ways that interferons either lead to disease or worsen disease," Dr. Kotzin said.
IFI-16 is the human counterpart to IFI-202 in the mouse. Dr. Kotzin told Reuters Health that several groups are currently working to determine if in fact IFI-16 predisposes people to lupus. "If we can identify the genes that predispose to lupus, we can start thinking about new therapies that perhaps target the disease at an earlier stage," he said.
Dr. Kotzin's work is funded by a
grant from the Alliance for Lupus Research.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd