HLA class II transgenic mice as models of human diseases

Immunol Rev. 1999 Jun;169:67-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065x.1999.tb01307.x.


Predisposition to develop various autoimmune disorders has been associated with certain HLA class II molecules but there is a lack of information on the pathophysiological role of HLA genes in conferring susceptibility. Various experimental animal models of autoimmune disease have been studied to address the role of immune response genes. To study the interactions involved between class II molecules (DQ and DR) and define the immunologic mechanisms in various diseases, we generated HLA-DR and DQ transgenic mice that lacked endogenous class II molecules. The HLA molecules in these mice are expressed on the cell surface and can positively select CD4+ T cells expressing various V beta T-cell receptors (TCR). A peripheral tolerance is maintained to transgenic HLA molecules thus indicating that these molecules act as self. Mouse co-stimulatory and accessory molecules can interact with the HLA-peptide-TCR complex leading to efficient T-cell activation. In this review, we describe immunogenetic models for human diseases using these transgenic mice. Our studies show that HLA class II transgene-restricted T cells recognize the immunodominant antigens and peptide epitopes, similar to HLA class II-restricted human T cells. Thus these mice provide powerful tools to understand the role of HLA class II molecules in predisposition and onset of human diseases and to develop immunotherapy and vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genes, MHC Class II*
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multiple Sclerosis / genetics
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / genetics
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / genetics
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / immunology
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / genetics
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Vaccines / genetics
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Vaccines