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Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Sep;121(3):430-6.

Probing the human natural autoantibody repertoire using an immunoscreening approach.

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Department of Human Genetics, Medical School, University of Saarland, Homburg/Saar, Germany.


While an increasing number of studies report the presence of antibodies capable of recognizing self-antigens, the function of these natural autoantibodies remains elusive. A variety of concepts has been advanced ranging from evolutionarily tolerated but non-functional natural autoantibodies to autoantibodies effecting various biological functions. Known IgM, IgG, and IgA natural autoantibodies are directed against various antigens, including nuclear and cell surface proteins. To explore further autoantibodies and their autoantigens, we employed an immunological screening method called SEREX recently used to characterize tumour-expressed antigens eliciting an immune response in patients [1]. Sera from 12 individuals were used to screen a cDNA expression library prepared from a cytogenetically normal meningioma to identify antigens reactive with normal human sera from individuals without obvious disease. Nineteen reactive normal antigen clones were identified representing 15 different antigens, including nine genes with known functions, five genes with unknown functions, and one gene with a novel sequence not present in the databases. Of the 12 individual normal sera tested, 75% were reactive to one or more of the 15 different antigens with two highly reactive sera demonstrating reactivity with 33% of the antigens. When screening the same meningioma expression library with serum from the patient, eight antigens were identified that were totally different from those identified using sera from normal individuals. This SEREX immunological screening method presents a new option for probing the natural autoantibody repertoire and identifying normal antigens whose functions may provide additional insights into how natural autoantibodies effect various biological functions.

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