The T-cell receptor (TCR) beta-chain gene repertoire of 40 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients was compared to that of 100 normal individuals. V-beta probes that represent 14 different V-beta sub-families plus a C-beta probe were used to identify 53 separate beta-chain gene segments. No duplication or deletion of any of these 53 gene segments was found in the MS patients. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) alleles detected by V-beta 8, V-beta 11 and C-beta probes defined 8 different beta-chain haplotypes. The distribution of these haplotypes in Caucasian MS patients and normal individuals was significantly different (p = 0.012). Comparison of the DR2+ subset of MS patients (n = 32) to a second group of 43 Caucasian DR2+ normal individuals revealed that the distribution of these beta-chain haplotypes was significantly different in these two populations (p = 0.015). These results suggest that an MS susceptibility gene(s) may be located in the region of the TCR/beta-chain gene complex.
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