Waterfield M, Khan IS, Cortez JT, Fan U, Metzger T, Greer A, Fasano K, Martinez-Llordella M, Pollack JL, Erle DJ, Su M, Anderson MS
The maintenance of immunological tolerance requires the deletion of self-reactive T cells in the thymus. The expression of genes encoding tissue-specific antigens (TSAs) by thymic epithelial cells is critical for this process and depends on activity of the transcriptional regulator Aire; however, the molecular mechanisms Aire uses to target loci encoding TSAs are unknown. Here we identified two Aire-interacting proteins known to be involved in gene repression, ATF7ip and MBD1, that were required for Aire's targeting of loci encoding TSAs. Moreover, Mbd1(-/-) mice developed pathological autoimmunity and had a defect in Aire-dependent thymic expression of genes encoding TSAs, which underscores the importance of Aire's interaction with the ATF7ip-MBD1 protein complex in maintaining central tolerance.