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J Immunol. 2000 Jun 15;164(12):6655-61.

Ro60 peptides induce antibodies to similar epitopes shared among lupus-related autoantigens.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia Specialized Center of Research on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


The coexistence of autoantibodies to ribonucleoproteins (RNP) in sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus has been attributed to intermolecular determinant spreading among physically associated proteins. Recently, we showed that murine Ab responses to rRo60 or Ro60 peptides were diversified unexpectedly to small nuclear RNP. In this investigation, the mechanisms for this autoantibody diversification were examined. Intramolecular determinant spreading was demonstrated in mice immunized with human or mouse Ro60316-335. Immune sera depleted of anti-peptide Ab immunoprecipitated Ro60-associated mY1 and mY3 RNA and remained reactive to a determinant on Ro60128-285. Absorption with the immunogen depleted the immune sera completely of anti-Golgi complex Ab (inducible only with human Ro60316-335) and anti-La Ab, and reduced substantially Ab to SmD and 70-kDa U1RNP. Mouse rRo60 completely inhibited the immune sera reactivity to La, SmD, and 70-kDa U1RNP. However, La, SmD, and 70-kDa U1RNP preferentially inhibited the antiserum reactivities to these Ags, respectively. Affinity-purified anti-La Ab were reactive with Ro60, La, SmD, and 70-kDa U1RNP. These results provide evidence that a population of the induced autoantibodies recognized determinants shared by these autoantigens. Lack of sequence homology between Ro60316-335 and La, SmD, or 70-kDa U1RNP suggests that these determinants are conformational. Interestingly, similar cross-reactive autoantibodies were found in NZB/NZW F1 sera. Thus, a single molecular mimic may generate Ab to multiple RNP Ags. Furthermore, cross-reactive determinants shared between antigenic systems that are not associated physically (Ro/La RNP and small nuclear RNP) may be important in the generation of autoantibody diversity in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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