The bare lymphocyte syndrome is a disorder in which class I histocompatibility antigens fail to be expressed normally on the surface of lymphocytes. Utilizing complementary DNA probes for both beta 2-microglobulin and class I genes, the molecular basis for this syndrome was investigated in a family with two siblings exhibiting the bare lymphocyte syndrome. Southern blot analysis demonstrated no gross internal defect in either class I or beta 2-microglobulin genes. Northern blot analysis of class I and beta 2-microglobulin messenger RNAs also revealed no qualitative difference between affected and unaffected family members. In contrast, quantitation of both class I and beta 2-microglobulin transcripts demonstrated each to be decreased in patients when compared to controls. Moreover, the decrease in both transcripts was coordinate. These results suggest that the bare lymphocyte syndrome may represent a pretranslational regulatory defect of both class I and beta 2-microglobulin gene expression.
K E Sullivan, J D Stobo, B M Peterlin