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J Immunol. 1990 Mar 1;144(5):1671-6.

Primary biliary cirrhosis. Inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex activity by autoantibodies specific for E1 alpha, a non-lipoic acid containing mitochondrial enzyme.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California, Davis 95616.


Antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA) are serologically characteristic of patients with PBC. Four Ag recognized by AMA have been recently identified, including protein X and the acyltransferases of three related multienzyme complexes: the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC), the branched-chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex, and the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex. Each of these enzymes contains one or more lipoyl moieties as part of a major functional site. In addition, epitope mapping has suggested that the AMA target is this lipoic acid-binding region. In this report we demonstrate that sera from patients with PBC also recognize the E1 component (pyruvate dehydrogenase, EC of PDC. PDC-E1 is composed of alpha and beta-chains. Reactivity with the 41 kD alpha chain was detected in 80 of 120 (66%) PBC sera by immunoblotting against purified PDC-E1; 2 of 120 sera also demonstrated reactivity with the 34 kD beta chain. In contrast, sera from patients with SLE, chronic active hepatitis, or progressive sclerosing cholangitis as well as sera from healthy volunteers did not react with PDC-E1. Furthermore, affinity-purified PBC sera against PDC-E1 alpha were able to inhibit PDC enzyme activity, whereas control sera could not. PDC-E1 alpha is now the fifth mitochondrial autoantigen of PBC to be identified. Similar to the four previously identified autoantigens, AMA appear to be directed to a functional site of PDC-E1 alpha inasmuch as they are able to inhibit enzyme function. However, PDC-E1 alpha is also unique in that it is the first identified mitochondrial autoantigen which does not contain lipoic acid.

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