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Identification and characterization of novel molecular causes of primary immunodeficiency : RELA mutations are associated to common variable immunodeficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus

Abstract : Beyond the clinical benefit for diagnosis, the study of patients with primary immunodeficiency (PID) has also largely contributed to the deciphering of the complex molecular mechanisms involved in the human adaptive response against pathogens. Still, a large number of PIDs, especially common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), are genetically not defined. During my thesis, I aimed to identify and characterize novel molecular causes of PIDs based on human natural mutants as a research model (1). By whole-exome sequencing of DNA from patients presenting either with pediatric or familial form of CVID and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), we identified three distinct heterozygous single nucleotide variations predicted deleterious in a CVID patient (RELAY306X), a pediatric SLE patient (RELAR329X) and familial SLE patients (RELAH86N). To better understand how the identified mutations may impact the role of RELA in the NF-kB pathway, we confirmed that the two nonsense RELA mutations led to the expression of truncated forms of the protein, while the missense mutation led to the expression of mutated forms of the protein. By immunoblotting of nuclear protein extracts and cellular immunofluorescence, we demonstrated that the two truncated forms of RELA can translocate into the nucleus. Then, using a labeled NF-κB consensus oligonucleotide, we demonstrated that the two truncated forms of RELA were able to bind to DNA. All three mutated RELA proteins, when expressed ectopically, had an impaired transcriptional activity. Finally, we showed by immunoprecipitation that all three ectopically expressed mutated RELA proteins are able to interact with protein partners and form homodimers. As a whole, our results indicate that mutations affecting the transcription factor RELA can be associated with CVID or SLE. Given the previous cases associating RELA haploinsufficiency to autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome with autoimmune cytopenia and to TNF-dependent mucocutaneous ulceration and inflammatory intestinal disease, our work widens the spectrum of disease and clinical phenotypes associated with RELA dysfunction and suggests that different RELA mutations lead to different functional consequences.
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Hicham Lamrini. Identification and characterization of novel molecular causes of primary immunodeficiency : RELA mutations are associated to common variable immunodeficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus. Hematology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCB211⟩. ⟨tel-02466295⟩

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