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J Immunol. 2009 Sep 1;183(5):3505-11. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0901207. Epub 2009 Aug 10.

Genetic complementation results in augmented autoantibody responses to lupus-associated antigens.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Lupus-prone female New Zealand Mixed (NZM)2328 mice develop high titers of anti-nuclear and anti-dsDNA autoantibodies. Despite high expression of type I IFNs, these mice do not develop autoantibodies to the small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) complex. Thus, additional genetic factors must regulate the generation of anti-snRNP autoantibodies. In contrast, despite much lower expression of type 1 IFNs, the diabetes-prone NOD mice spontaneously make anti-snRNP autoantibodies, albeit at a low incidence. To determine whether combination of high type I IFN response of NZM mice with appropriate susceptibility genes of NOD mice would result in anti-snRNP Ab response, cohorts of (NZM2328 x NOD)F(1) mice were generated and characterized for development of autoimmunity. In comparison with parental strains, the PBMCs from F(1) mice showed intermediate expression of type I IFN-responsive genes and augmented expression of IL-6 transcripts. TLR7 expression was similar in all strains. The F(1) mice had very high incidence and titer of anti-snRNP autoantibodies, anti-nuclear Abs, and anti-dsDNA autoantibodies. The levels of anti-snRNP autoantibody correlated with the expression levels of type I IFN-responsive genes. None of the F(1) mice developed diabetes, and only female mice developed severe renal disease. Our data demonstrate that only in presence of appropriate susceptibility genes, anti-snRNP autoantibodies are induced and type I IFNs amplify this response. A synergy between IL-6 and type I IFNs might be critical for amplifying overall autoantibody responses in systemic lupus erythematosus. In NZM/NOD F(1) mouse, genetic complementation between NZM and NOD genes leads to expression of phenotypes similar to those seen in certain lupus patients.

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