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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Oct 1;89(19):8864-8.

In vitro selection of an RNA epitope immunologically cross-reactive with a peptide.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.


An antiserum raised against a peptide was used to select a unique RNA species from a degenerate pool of RNAs designed to resemble an autoantibody recognition site in U1 RNA. The peptide and the selected RNA epitope could compete for antibody binding, suggesting that both RNA and peptide epitopes occupy the same or overlapping antigen-combining sites. Thus, the RNA epitope functioned as a specific inhibitor of the antibody-antigen interaction. We demonstrate that the RNA epitope can be used to tag unrelated RNA molecules and also to detect the presence of the antibody. We propose that sequence-specific recognition of RNA by antibodies may involve protein-RNA contacts similar to those occurring in other nucleic acid-binding proteins. In addition, these findings are compatible with the suggestion that nucleic acid-binding autoantibodies may arise through immunological cross-reactivity between proteins and nucleic acids.

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