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News-in-brief / 08.18.15

Study sheds light on role of HLA
 gene variants in autoimmune diseases

By Broad Communications

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes encode proteins found on the surface of cells, which help regulate our immune systems. These genes vary tremendously within the population, and such variations can lead to a high risk for, or protection from, autoimmune disorders. In a letter published in Nature Genetics, a team led by Broad researcher Soumya Raychaudhuri and Paul de Bakker of University Medical Center Utrecht (Netherlands) showed evidence that two different versions of certain HLA genes may work together to heighten the risk of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease — potentially explaining differences between individuals with these diseases.