CD74 Deficiency Mitigates Systemic Lupus Erythematosus-like Autoimmunity and Pathological Findings in Mice

J Immunol. 2017 Apr 1;198(7):2568-2577. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1600028. Epub 2017 Feb 20.


CD74 mediates MHC class-II antigenic peptide loading and presentation and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus. C57BL/6 Faslpr mice that develop spontaneous lupus-like autoimmunity and pathology showed elevated CD74 expression in the inflammatory cell infiltrates and the adjacent tubular epithelial cells (TECs) in kidneys affected by lupus nephritis but negligible levels in kidneys from age-matched wild-type mice. The inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ or IL-6 induced CD74 expression in kidney TECs in vitro. The presence of kidney TECs from Faslpr mice, rather than from wild-type mice, produced significantly stronger histones, dsDNA, and ribonucleoprotein-Smith Ag complex-induced CD4+ T cell activation. Splenocytes from CD74-deficient FaslprCd74-/- mice had muted responses in a MLR and to the autoantigen histones. Compared with FaslprCd74+/+ mice, FaslprCd74-/- mice had reduced kidney and spleen sizes, splenic activated T cells and B cells, serum IgG and autoantibodies, urine albumin/creatinine ratio, kidney Periodic acid-Schiff score, IgG and C3 deposition, and serum IL-6 and IL-17A levels, but serum IL-2 and TGF-β levels were increased. Study of chronic graft-versus-host C57BL/6 mice that received donor splenocytes from B6.C-H2bm12 /KhEg mice and those that received syngeneic donor splenocytes yielded similar observations. CD74 deficiency reduced lupus-like autoimmunity and kidney pathology in chronic graft-versus-host mice. This investigation establishes the direct participation of CD74 in autoimmunity and highlights a potential role for CD74 in kidney TECs, together with professional APCs in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Tubules / immunology
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • invariant chain