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Nature. 1986 Nov 20-26;324(6094):258-60.

T-cell epitope of the autoantigen myelin basic protein that induces encephalomyelitis.


Chronic relapsing paralysis and demyelination within the central nervous system (CNS), features associated with the human disease multiple sclerosis (MS), develop in mice after injection of murine T-cell clones specific for the autoantigen myelin basic protein (MBP). We examined the fine specificity of three independently derived encephalitogenic T-cell clones using synthetic polypeptides derived from portions of the N-terminal sequence of MBP. These clones appear functionally identical; they all respond to an epitope in the N-terminal nine amino acid residues in association with the same class II (I-A) molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Both the N-terminal acetyl moiety and the first residue (Ala) are necessary for recognition. Only N-terminal MBP peptides recognized by these clones were found to cause encephalomyelitis (EAE) in vivo. These results show that the N-terminal MBP-specific T lymphocytes that mediate autoimmune encephalomyelitis are a small population with a limited repertoire; they all recognise the same combination of MHC and target.

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