Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) susceptibility is associated with the DR4-DQw4 haplotype in Japanese and the DR4-DQw8/-Drw8-DQw4 genotype (among others) in whites. We investigated whether these Japanese and white individuals encode the same or a similar DQ αβ heterodimer, which may be an IDDM-susceptibility molecule in both populations. First, we carried out genomic DQA1 and DQB1 typing with sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes. The results revealed that Japanese DR4-DQw4 and white DR4-DQw8/DRw8-DQw4 IDDM patients carried the DQA1*0301 allele and the DQB1*0401 or DQB1*0402 allele, either in the cis (Japanese DR4-DQw4 individuals) or trans (white DR4-DQw8/DRw8-DQw4 individuals) position. Because the DQB1*0401 and DQB1*0402 alleles differ only at residue 23, these DQB1 genes are very similar. We next tested cells from these individuals with a particular DQ-specific T-lymphocyte clone, HH58. The clone was only restimulated with cells from Japanese individuals who carried the DQA1*0301 and DQB1*0401 alleles in the cis position or white individuals who carried the DQA1*0301 and DQB1*0402 alleles in the trans position. Thus, particular cis- or trans-encoded DQ αβ heterodimers, which in both cases are recognized by T lymphocytes, may confer susceptibility to IDDM in both ethnic groups.

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