Discovering a 'THRIL' that correlates with severity of Kawasaki disease

This is the mechanism of action of 'THRIL' -- a newly discoverd TNF-alpha regulator. Credit: RANA

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute scientists have discovered a new molecule that forms when certain white blood cells—macrophages—are stimulated in response to pathogens. The molecule, termed "THRIL," helps regulate the immune response and shows an association with Kawasaki disease. The findings suggest that THRIL may contribute to other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

The study, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, measured large intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) produced when the immune system is activated. One lincRNA was found to bind heterogenous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNPL), creating a new molecule that regulates genetic control of TNF-alpha—a potent cytokine that promotes inflammation. The authors named the molecule THRIL, after TNF-alpha and hnRNPL-related immunoregulatory lincRNA.

Noncoding RNAs as key regulators of immune response

Large noncoding RNA corresponds to the parts of the genome that do not code for protein.

"For some time we have known that noncoding regions of RNA play important roles in regulating the to microbial pathogens," said Tariq Rana, Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor in the Sanford Children's Health Research Center and director of the RNA Biology Program at Sanford-Burnham. "When we realized that THRIL functioned to control the TNF-alpha gene, we wanted to see if it mirrors the progression in inflammatory diseases."

Collaborating with Jane Burns, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Rady Children's Hospital and UC San Diego, Rana's team measured THRIL levels in Kawasaki disease samples at different stages of the disease, and found that levels were at their lowest during the acute stage of the disease—when TNF-alpha levels are at their highest.

The findings suggest that THRIL could be a novel biomarker for immune activation and a potential target for .

Related Stories

Target for new Rx class for inflammatory disorders discovered

Oct 03, 2013

Research led by Charles Nichols, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, describes a powerful new anti-inflammatory mechanism that could lead to the development of new oral medications ...

Researchers identify new target to treat psoriasis

Dec 05, 2013

Sanford-Burnham scientists have identified the B and T Lymphocyte Attenuator (BTLA) inhibitory receptor as a key factor in limiting inflammatory responses, particularly in the skin. The study, published online ...

Immune response linked to key enzyme

Apr 12, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—A previously unknown function of a family of enzymes familiar to biologists may contribute to scientists' understanding of signaling molecules involved in the body's immune response and ...

Recommended for you

Biologists reprogram skin cells to mimic rare disease

7 hours ago

Johns Hopkins stem cell biologists have found a way to reprogram a patient's skin cells into cells that mimic and display many biological features of a rare genetic disorder called familial dysautonomia. ...

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

Aug 20, 2014

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

User comments