Friday, June 14, 2013

BACH2 Gene Responsible For Regulating Immune System; Finding Leads To Greater Understanding Of Autoimmune Diseases

Genetic Research

The Autoimmune Response: “Human T cells stained to reveal the DNA in their nuclei,” 
says the NIH article.“Using genome-wide approaches, the team found that BACH2 has a broad role
in regulating immune function. The protein directly binds hundreds of genes in maturing T cells
and affects the activity of thousands of genes.”
Image by A. Walker, L. Sharp & J. Pryde; Wellcome Images
Source: NIH

An article in the National Institutes of Health says that the BACH2 gene is important in regulating the immune system, and thus can be a clue to treat many autoimmune diseases that affect humans; it might also have an effect on cancer.

The article says:
Scientists discovered how a gene called BACH2 may affect the development of multiple sclerosis, asthma, Crohn's disease, celiac disease and other allergic and autoimmune diseases. The immune system has a variety of cell types that act in unison to protect the body from invading microbial threats. Autoimmune diseases—which include type 1 diabetes, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis—arise when this system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Autoimmunity can also occur in infectious diseases and cancer.
How all the parts of the immune system keep in balance still isn’t well understood. White blood cells called CD4 T cells play a dual role. As these cells mature, they can become one of many types of T cell, each of which has a distinct function. Some CD4 cells activate immune responses. Others, called regulatory T cells, constrain immune responses. When the immune system is out of balance, uncontrolled reactions can lead to attacks against the body’s own cells and tissues. Immune responses cause tissue inflammation, and when immune reactions are uncontrolled, the excessive inflammation can result in tissue and organ damage and may even be lethal.
Previous studies found that people with diverse autoimmune diseases and allergies (in which the immune system attacks a harmless substance such as pollen) often have minor variations in the gene coding for BACH2. BACH2 is a transcription factor, a protein that regulates the activity of genes. A team headed by researchers at NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) set out to further investigate the role of BACH2 in autoimmune diseases. Their study appeared online in Nature on June 2, 2013.
Many individuals live with and endure the effects of autoimmune diseases, where the body’s defense mechanisms attack the human body’s cells and tissues, thus attacking itself; for long the reasons why this happened remained a mystery and people suffered. And although we don’t yet have a full picture of why this is so, we now we might have some insight as to what’s taking place at the genetic level, namely, that the BACH2 gene has some say in the matter.

The article says: “The role of BACH2 in humans still needs to be confirmed. However, these findings may be the first step in developing novel therapies for allergic and autoimmune diseases. The findings may have implications for cancer as well, since cancers can co-opt regulatory T cells to prevent their own destruction.”

You can read the rest of the article at [NIH