UBE2L3 polymorphism amplifies NF-κB activation and promotes plasma cell development, linking linear ubiquitination to multiple autoimmune diseases

Am J Hum Genet. 2015 Feb 5;96(2):221-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.12.024. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


UBE2L3 is associated with increased susceptibility to numerous autoimmune diseases, but the underlying mechanism is unexplained. By using data from a genome-wide association study of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we observed a single risk haplotype spanning UBE2L3, consistently aligned across multiple autoimmune diseases, associated with increased UBE2L3 expression in B cells and monocytes. rs140490 in the UBE2L3 promoter region showed the strongest association. UBE2L3 is an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, specially adapted to function with HECT and RING-in-between-RING (RBR) E3 ligases, including HOIL-1 and HOIP, components of the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC). Our data demonstrate that UBE2L3 is the preferred E2 conjugating enzyme for LUBAC in vivo, and UBE2L3 is essential for LUBAC-mediated activation of NF-κB. By accurately quantifying NF-κB translocation in primary human cells from healthy individuals stratified by rs140490 genotype, we observed that the autoimmune disease risk UBE2L3 genotype was correlated with basal NF-κB activation in unstimulated B cells and monocytes and regulated the sensitivity of NF-κB to CD40 stimulation in B cells and TNF stimulation in monocytes. The UBE2L3 risk allele correlated with increased circulating plasmablast and plasma cell numbers in SLE individuals, consistent with substantially elevated UBE2L3 protein levels in plasmablasts and plasma cells. These results identify key immunological consequences of the UBE2L3 autoimmune risk haplotype and highlight an important role for UBE2L3 in plasmablast and plasma cell development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Luciferases
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • DNA Primers
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Luciferases
  • UBE2L3 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes