Polymorphisms in the F Pocket of HLA-B27 Subtypes Strongly Affect Assembly, Chaperone Interactions, and Heavy-Chain Misfolding

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017 Mar;69(3):610-621. doi: 10.1002/art.39948.


Objective: HLA-B27 is associated with the inflammatory spondyloarthritides (SpA), although subtypes HLA-B*27:06 and HLA-B*27:09 are not. These subtypes differ from the HLA-B*27:05 disease-associated allele primarily at residues 114 and 116 of the heavy chain, part of the F pocket of the antigen-binding groove. Dimerization of HLA-B27 during assembly has been implicated in disease onset. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that influence differences in dimerization between disease-associated and non-disease-associated HLA-B27 alleles.

Methods: HLA-B*27:05 and mutants resembling the HLA-B*27:06 and 09 subtypes were expressed in the rat C58 T cell line, the human CEM T cell line and its calnexin-deficient variant CEM.NKR. Immunoprecipitation, pulse-chase experiments, flow cytometry, and immunoblotting were performed to study the assembly kinetics, heavy-chain dimerization, and chaperone associations.

Results: By expressing HLA-B*27:05, 06-like, and 09 alleles on a restrictive rat transporter associated with antigen processing background, we demonstrate that a tyrosine expressed at p116, either alone or together with an aspartic acid residue at p114, inhibited HLA-B27 dimerization and increased the assembly rate. F-pocket residues altered the associations with chaperones of the early major histocompatibility complex class I folding pathway. Calnexin was demonstrated to participate in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-mediated degradation of dimers, whereas the oxidoreductase ERp57 does not appear to influence dimerization.

Conclusion: Residues within the F pocket of the peptide-binding groove, which differ between disease-associated and non-disease-associated HLA-B27 subtypes, can influence the assembly process and heavy-chain dimerization, events which have been linked to the initiation of disease pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / classification*
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / genetics*
  • Molecular Chaperones / physiology*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Rats


  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • Molecular Chaperones