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Endocrinology. 2007 Feb;148(2):752-61. Epub 2006 Oct 26.

Diversity in the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) of antibodies from mice with evolving anti-thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibody responses.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M/C 790), Room E-709, Building 935, 835 South Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


In a mouse model of autoimmune Graves' disease, stimulatory anti-TSH receptor (TSHR) antibodies (TSAbs) slowly evolve upon repeated immunization with TSHR and lead to hyperthyroidism. Although all immunized mice developed high levels of TSH-binding inhibitory Ig (TBII), only a subset of these mice become hyperthyroid, suggesting that the generation of pathogenic antibodies (Abs) may require affinity maturation. We analyzed the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) of IGHV1 and IGHV5 heavy chains from mice at different stages of disease development. Subcloned CDR3 PCR products were amplified from RNA isolated from enriched splenic B/plasma cells of a control mouse, and mice with low TBII and normal T(4) levels (LTNT(4)), high TBII and normal T(4) levels (HTNT(4)), and high TBII and high T(4) levels (HTHT(4)). Using statistical analyses, we correlated usage of D and J genes and the amino acid composition and length of and mutations within the CDR3 with different outcomes after TSHR immunization. CDR3 sequences from TSHR-immunized mice contained a higher frequency of D gene SP2.9 relative to control, whereas sequences from HTHT(4) contained a higher frequency of D gene Q52 compared with sequences from LTNT(4). Furthermore, HTHT(4) sequences also contained higher CDR3 replacement mutations, relative to LTNT(4) and HTNT(4) mice, that are indicative of somatic hypermutation. Collectively, our results suggest that higher somatic mutations within the CDR3 may correlate with pathogenic antibodies against the TSHR.

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