Scientists discover new T cells and genes related to immune disorders

A newly developed method called ReapTEC allowed the discovery of thouands of active bidirectional enhancers. Further anaylis of GWAS data revelaed that various immune-mediated diseases, like multipkle sclerosis and rheumatoisd arthritis, are related to genetic variations within these enhancers. Credit: RIKEN

Researchers led by Yasuhiro Murakawa at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS) and Kyoto University in Japan and IFOM ETS in Italy have discovered several rare types of helper T cells that are associated with immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even asthma.

Published in Science, the discoveries were made possible by a newly developed technology they call ReapTEC, which identified genetic enhancers in rare T cell subtypes that are linked to specific immune disorders. The new T cell atlas is publicly available and should help in the development of new drug therapies for immune-mediated diseases.

Helper T cells are a kind of white blood cell that make up a large part of the immune system. They recognize pathogens and regulate the immune response. Many immune-mediated diseases are caused by abnormal T cell function. In autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, they mistakenly attack parts of the body as if they were pathogens.

In the case of allergies, T cells overreact to harmless substances in the environment like pollen. We know of several common T cells, but recent studies have shown that rare and specialized types of T cells exist, and they might be related to immune-mediated diseases.

Within all cells, including T cells, there are regions of DNA called “enhancers.” This DNA does not code for proteins. Instead, it codes for small pieces of RNA, and enhances the expression of other genes.





Article can be accessed on: MedicalXpress