Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is a common lymphoma in young adults derived from B cells. Emerging evidence suggests that antigen presentation by the malignant B cells is critically involved in HL pathogenesis. In fact, genetic variants of the antigen presenting Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are strongly associated with HL susceptibility. Interestingly, the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase (ERAP)1 and ERAP2 genes, that code for enzymes that process antigens, also appear to be associated. In this study, we show that genetic variants of ERAP genes strongly affect expression levels of ERAP1 and ERAP2. In addition, we find that certain ERAP variants interact with specific HLA class I types in HL patients. This suggests that mechanisms that determine the repertoire of antigens that are presented to the immune system, affect the chance of developing HL. Our findings therefore support a prominent role of antigen presentation in HL susceptibility.
Genetic variants in the HLA region are the strongest risk factors for developing Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), suggesting an important role for antigen presentation. This is supported by another HL-associated genomic region which contains the loci of two enzymes that process endogenous proteins to peptides to be presented by HLA class I, i.e., endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 (ERAP1) and ERAP2. We hypothesized that ERAP and HLA class I type interact in HL susceptibility, as shown previously for several autoimmune diseases. We detected ERAP1 and ERAP2 expression in tumor cells and cells in the microenvironment in primary HL tissue samples. Seven ERAP SNPs and ERAP1 haplotypes showed strong associations with RNA and protein levels of ERAP1 and ERAP2 in LCLs and HL cell lines. Analysis of HLA class I types, ERAP SNPs and ERAP haplotypes by direct genotyping or imputation from genome-wide association data in 390 HL patients revealed significant interactions between HLA-A11, rs27038 and the rs27038 associated ERAP haplotype, as well as between HLA-Cw2 and rs26618. In conclusion, our results show that ERAP and HLA class I interact in genetic susceptibility to HL, providing further evidence that antigen presentation is an important process in HL susceptibility and pathogenesis.