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J Clin Invest. 1990 Jul;86(1):69-74.

Endogenous circulating DNA in systemic lupus erythematosus. Occurrence as multimeric complexes bound to histone.

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Department of Medicine, State University of New York, Brooklyn 11203.


Little is known about endogenous systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) plasma DNA even though it is the presumed precursor of DNA-containing immune complexes, thought to play a central role in lupus glomerulonephritis. DNA purified from SLE plasma formed discrete bands, corresponding to sizes of about 150-200, 400, 600, and 800 bp, closely resembling the characteristic 200 bp "ladder" found with oligonucleosomal (ON) DNA. By radiolabeling DNA while in whole plasma, the very small amounts present could be further characterized. All of 24 such specimens formed two or more discrete bands on 6% PAGE. Detergent treatment of plasma resulted in a DNA migration pattern similar to that of purified DNA, suggesting disruption of DNA-protein complexes. DNA purified from authentic ON and detergent-treated ON behaved similarly. A significant portion of DNA, labeled in SLE plasma could be specifically immunoprecipitated with monoclonal antihistone antibody as was the case with ON. These immunoprecipitates, when redissolved, exhibited the expected size distribution upon PAGE. It is concluded that DNA in SLE plasma occurs as a series of multimeric complexes, at least a portion of which is noncovalently bound to histone. These results are consistent with an ON-like structure for SLE plasma DNA as had been suggested by theoretical considerations and may have important implications for its immunologic behavior in SLE and perhaps other disorders.

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