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Gastroenterology. 1998 Jul;115(1):139-46.

Three-dimensional structure of the major autoantigen in primary biliary cirrhosis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge Centre for Molecular Recognition, University of Cambridge, England.



Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by the presence of antimitochondrial autoantibodies in patients' serum. The major autoantigen, recognized by antibodies from > 95% of patients with PBC, has been identified as the E2 component (E2p) of the pyruvate dehydrogenase multienzyme complex. Immunodominant sites on E2p have been localized to the inner of the two lipoyl domains, where the essential cofactor lipoic acid is attached covalently. The aim of this study was to determine the three-dimensional structure of the inner lipoyl domain of human E2p.


The domain was expressed in Escherichia coli; after purification, its structure was analyzed using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.


The structure of the lipoyl domain from human E2p was determined, and the implications of the structure for autoimmune recognition were assessed.


Knowledge of the structure further defines the major epitope and may help in the design of antigen-specific immunotherapy for treatment of PBC.

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