Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune disorder strongly associated with HLA‐B27. A direct role of B27 molecules in the disease pathogenesis has been postulated, possibly by presenting to T cells an as‐yet unidentified arthritogenic peptide that triggers the autoimmune response. There are nine HLA‐B27 alleles differing from each other at one or more amino acid positions. It is important, for the identification of the arthritogenic peptide, to define which alleles, and therefore which polymorphic positions, predispose to the disease. Here, we report that HLA‐B★2709 is not associated with AS, as it was not found in patients. HLA‐B★2709 differs from the most frequent and disease‐associated HLA‐B★2705 allele for a single substitution (His vs. Asp) at position 116. Amino acid 116 is located at the bottom of the groove where the antigenic peptide sits, and it has been proven to influence the peptide‐binding specificity of HLA class I molecules. The most likely interpretation of these data is that the differences in charge and size that accompany the His‐to‐Asp substitution exclude the acceptance of the arthritogenic peptide.
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Arthritogenic peptide