, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 437-444
Date: 25 Aug 2010

Human IRGM gene “to be or not to be”

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The immunity-related GTPases (IRG proteins) are one of the strongest early resistance systems against intracellular pathogens. The IRG gene family contains 21 copies arranged as tandem gene clusters on two chromosomes in the C57BL/6 mouse genome but has been reduced to only two copies in humans: IRGC and IRGM. IRGC is not involved in immunity, but the human IRGM gene plays a role in autophagy-targeted destruction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (BCG) and Salmonella typhimurium. Variant IRGM haplotypes have been associated with increased risk for Crohn’s disease and correlated with differential expression of IRGM transcripts. This article reviews in detail the studies performed on human samples, in vitro, and in sequence analyses that provide evidence for the unusual evolutionary history of the IRGM locus and the important role of the IRGM gene in autophagy and Crohn’s disease in response to pathogenesis.

This article is published as part of the Special Issue on Autophagy.