Mutations in the AIRE gene: effects on subcellular location and transactivation function of the autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy protein

Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Feb;66(2):378-92. doi: 10.1086/302765.


Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) is a monogenic autosomal disease with recessive inheritance. It is characterized by multiple autoimmune endocrinopathies, chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis, and ectodermal dystrophies. The defective gene responsible for this disease was recently isolated, and several different mutations in the novel gene, AIRE, have been identified, by us and by others, in patients with APECED. We have shown that the APECED protein is mainly localized, both in vitro and in vivo, to the cell nucleus, where it forms distinct speckles. This accords with the predicted structural features of the protein, which suggest involvement of AIRE in the regulation of gene transcription. Here, we report the results of mutational analyses of a series of 112 patients with APECED who were from various ethnic backgrounds. A total of 16 different mutations, covering 91% of disease alleles, were observed; of these, 8 were novel. The mutations are spread throughout the coding region of AIRE, yet four evident mutational hotspots were observed. In vitro expression of four different naturally occurring nonsense and missense mutations revealed a dramatically altered subcellular location of the protein in cultured cells. Interestingly, the wild-type APECED protein tethered to the Gal4 DNA-binding domain acted as a strong transcriptional activator of reporter genes in mammalian cells, whereas most of the analyzed mutant polypeptides had lost this capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Exons / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Mutation, Missense / genetics
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / genetics*
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation / genetics*


  • APECED protein
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ009610
  • GENBANK/Z97990