Mutations in genes encoding autophagy proteins have been associated with human autoimmune diseases, suggesting that diversity in autophagy responses could be associated with disease susceptibility or severity. A cellular genome-wide association study (GWAS) screen was performed to explore normal human diversity in responses to rapamycin, a microbial product that induces autophagy. Cells from several human populations demonstrated variability in expression of a cell surface receptor, CD244 (SlamF4, 2B4), that correlated with changes in rapamycin-induced autophagy. High expression of CD244 and receptor activation with its endogenous ligand CD48 inhibited starvation- and rapamycin-induced autophagy by promoting association of CD244 with the autophagy complex proteins Vps34 and Beclin-1. The association of CD244 with this complex reduced Vps34 lipid kinase activity. Lack of CD244 is associated with auto-antibody production in mice, and lower expression of human CD244 has previously been implicated in severity of human rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, indicating that increased autophagy as a result of low levels of CD244 may alter disease outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences