Development of autoimmune diseases is the result of a complex interplay between hereditary and environmental factors, with multiple genes contributing to the pathogenesis in human disease and in experimental models for disease. The T-box protein 3 is a transcriptional repressor essential during early embryonic development, in the formation of bone and additional organ systems, and in tumorigenesis. With the aim to find novel genes important for autoimmune inflammation, we have performed genetic studies of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a mouse experimental model for rheumatoid arthritis. We showed that a small genetic fragment on mouse chromosome 5, including Tbx3 and three additional protein-coding genes, is linked to severe arthritis and high titers of anti-collagen antibodies. Gene expression studies have revealed differential expression of Tbx3 in B cells, where low expression was accompanied by a higher B cell response upon B cell receptor stimulation in vitro. Furthermore, we showed that serum TBX3 levels rise concomitantly with increasing severity of CIA. From these results, we suggest that TBX3 is a novel factor important for the regulation of gene transcription in the immune system and that genetic polymorphisms, resulting in lower expression of Tbx3, are contributing to a more severe form of CIA and high titers of autoantibodies. We also propose TBX3 as a putative diagnostic biomarker for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Collagen-induced arthritis
- Transcriptional regulation