Genome-wide studies have identified associations between polymorphisms in the IFN regulatory factor-5 (Irf5) gene and a variety of human autoimmune diseases. Its functional role in disease pathogenesis, however, remains unclear, as studies in Irf5 -/- mice have reached disparate conclusions regarding the importance of this transcription factor in type I IFN production and antibody responses. We identified a spontaneous genomic duplication and frameshift mutation in the guanine exchange factor dedicator of cytokinesis 2 (Dock2) that has arisen in at least a subset of circulating Irf5 -/- mice and inadvertently been bred to homozygosity. Retroviral expression of DOCK2, but not IRF-5, rescued defects in plasmacytoid dendritic cell and B-cell development, and Irf5 -/-mice lacking the mutation in Dock2 exhibited normal plasmacytoid dendritic cell and B-cell development, largely intact type I IFN responses, and relatively normal antibody responses to viral infection. Thus, confirmation of the normal Dock2 genotype in circulating Irf5 -/- mice is warranted, and our data may partly explain conflicting results in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E898-E904
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012


  • Autoimmunity viruses
  • Immune cell development


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