This report demonstrates a T-cell receptor (Tcr) restriction fragment length polymorphism, defined by a Tcrb-V6.1 gene probe and Bgl II restriction enzyme, to be absolutely correlated with allelic variation in the coding sequence of a Tcrb-V6.1 gene. A pair of non-conservative amino acid substitutions distinguish the Tcrb-V6.1 allelic variants. An association of this Tcrb-V6.1 gene allelic variant with one form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) was established in a cohort of 126 patients. The association was observed in patients possessing the HLA-DQA1*0101 gene. Among HLA-DQA*0101 individuals, 19 of 26 patients (73.1%) carried one particular Tcrb-V6.1 gene allele as opposed to 11 of 33 controls (33%; p<0.005). Haplotypes carrying this HLA gene have previously been shown to confer increased risk for progression of arthritis in JRA. This demonstration of a disease-associated Tcrb-V gene allelic variant has not, to our knowledge, been previously reported and supports the contribution of polymorphism in the Tcr variable region genomic repertoire to human autoimmune disease.
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