Aire-deficient C57BL/6 mice mimicking the common human 13-base pair deletion mutation present with only a mild autoimmune phenotype

J Immunol. 2009 Mar 15;182(6):3902-18. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0802124.


Autoimmune regulator (AIRE) is an important transcription regulator that mediates a role in central tolerance via promoting the "promiscuous" expression of tissue-specific Ags in the thymus. Although several mouse models of Aire deficiency have been described, none has analyzed the phenotype induced by a mutation that emulates the common 13-bp deletion in human APECED (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy) by disrupting the first plant homeodomain in exon 8. Aire-deficient mice with a corresponding mutation showed some disturbance of the medullary epithelial compartment, but at the phenotypic level their T cell compartment appeared relatively normal in the thymus and periphery. An increase in the number of activated T cells was evident, and autoantibodies against several organs were detected. At the histological level, lymphocytic infiltration of several organs indicated the development of autoimmunity, although symptoms were mild and the quality of life for Aire-deficient mice appeared equivalent to wild-type littermates, with the exception of male infertility. Vbeta and CDR3 length analysis suggested that each Aire-deficient mouse developed its own polyclonal autoimmune repertoire. Finally, given the prevalence of candidiasis in APECED patients, we examined the control of infection with Candida albicans in Aire-deficient mice. No increase in disease susceptibility was found for either oral or systemic infection. These observations support the view that additional genetic and/or environmental factors contribute substantially to the overt nature of autoimmunity associated with Aire mutations, even for mutations identical to those found in humans with APECED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIRE Protein
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Pairing / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Mimicry / genetics*
  • Molecular Mimicry / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed*
  • Phenotype*
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / genetics*
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism
  • Thymus Gland / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Transcription Factors