PCR-SSO typing in HLA-disease association studies.
Associations between a large number of diseases and markers within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been described. In particular, susceptibility to several autoimmune disorders, including type I diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis, is linked to genes within the MHC and strong population associations are demonstrable between certain HLA class II alleles and these conditions. Genetic mapping of HLA susceptibility loci has traditionally relied on the use of phenotypic markers defined by alloantisera, cellular typing reagents and biochemical analysis of histocompatibility antigens. Polymerase chain reaction sequence-specific oligonucleotide (PCR-SSO) typing combines the ability to define the finest of HLA specificities, by analysis of the corresponding DNA sequences, with the possibility of study large populations of normal and affected individuals. The applications of this technology to characterizing precisely the MHC loci associated with susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes mellitus, coeliac disease and pemphigus vulgaris are reviewed here.