Author(s): Mamula MJ, Fatenejad S, Craft J
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Abstract Antibodies against U small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) particles are a common finding in the sera of humans with SLE and in certain strains of mice with murine lupus. It is likely that Th cells are important in amplifying this autoantibody response. The focus of this work was to investigate events that might initiate autoimmune B and T cell response in non-autoimmune mice to native snRNP particles. Mice that were immunized and boosted with native mouse snRNPs failed to produce any detectable specific anti-snRNP antibody or T cell responses, suggesting that these autoreactive cells were deleted from the repertoire or were anergic to stimulation with this self Ag. In contrast, immunization with native foreign (human) snRNPs elicited both T cells and cross-reactive anti-snRNP antibodies; the latter predominantly were directed toward the A protein of the U1 snRNP. When mice were immunized with human and mouse snRNPs together in adjuvant, T cells specific for mouse snRNPs could be elicited. The results of these experiments suggested that the mechanism of breaking T cell tolerance to self snRNPs was dependent on the ability of cross-reactive B cells to process and present these autoantigens. To address this hypothesis, B cells purified from mice immunized with recombinant human A protein were transferred into naive mice. Upon boosting with native mouse snRNPs, autoreactive CD4+ T cells specific for mouse Ags, and not cross-reactive with human snRNPs, were observed. These studies support a model of molecular mimicry whereby autoantigen-presenting B cells are generated by foreign cross-reactive determinants that can, in turn, elicit an autoimmune T cell response.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology