Differential expression of predisposing HLA-DQ2.5 alleles in DR5/DR7 celiac disease patients affects the pathological immune response to gluten

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 14;10(1):17227. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-73907-2.


The DR5-DQ7/DR7-DQ2 genotype is very frequent among patients affected by celiac disease (CD), in Europe. This genotype, associated to high risk of CD, carries the HLA-DQA1*05 and HLA-DQB1*02 predisposing alleles, in trans configuration. The alleles encode the DQ2.5 heterodimer responsible of gluten peptide presentation on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), and consequent pathogenic CD4+ T cell activation. We demonstrated that DR5/DR7 APCs induce an anti-gluten CD4+ T cell response, of comparable intensity to that observed with APCs carrying DR1/DR3 genotype, which risk alleles are in cis configuration. In addition, we showed that DR5/DR7 APCs from celiac patients stimulated an effector CD4+ T cell response higher with respect to that induced by DR5/DR7 APCs from healthy subjects. To explain these findings, we assessed the DQ2.5 RNA and protein quantity. We showed that the expression of DQA1*05 and DQB1*02 risk alleles is much higher than the expression of non-CD-associated alleles, in agreement with the previous results obtained with DR1/DR3 genotype. The differential expression of transcripts influences the quantity of DQα1*05 and DQβ1*02 chains and, as consequence, the cell surface density of DQ2.5 heterodimers. Moreover, both RNA and proteins, are more abundant in APCs from celiac patients than controls. Finally, to unravel the mechanism regulating the expression of predisposing DQA1*05 and DQB1*02 alleles, we quantified the new synthetized RNA and found that the differential expression is explained by their transcription rate. Our results confirmed that the strength of antigen-specific CD4+ T cell response is mainly determined by the amount of gluten in the diet and provided a new possible approach for a personalized diagnosis and for risk stratification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / genetics*
  • Celiac Disease / immunology*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Glutens / immunology*
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / metabolism*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / genetics*


  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DQ2 antigen
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFRSF10B protein, human
  • Glutens