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Nature. 1988 Jan 14;331(6152):171-3.

Cloning of the mycobacterial epitope recognized by T lymphocytes in adjuvant arthritis.

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Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Veterinary Faculty, State University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Adjuvant arthritis (AA) is a chronic disease inducible in rats by immunization with an antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. After the isolation of arthritogenic T-cell lines and clones, it became possible to demonstrate that the critical M. tuberculosis antigen contained an epitope cross-reactive with a self-antigen in joint cartilage. Like AA rats, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis demonstrated specific T-lymphocyte reactivity to the M. tuberculosis fraction containing the cross-reactive epitope. To characterize the critical M. tuberculosis epitope we used AA T-cell clones to screen mycobacterial antigens expressed in Escherichia coli and genetically engineered truncated proteins and synthetic peptides. The AA T-cell clones recognized an epitope formed by the amino acids at positions 180-188 in the sequence of a Mycobacterium bovis BCG antigen. Administration of this antigen to rats induced resistance to subsequent attempts to produce AA.

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