Author(s): Westall FC, Westall FC
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Abstract Molecular mimicry is a possible explanation for autoimmune side effects of microorganism infections. Protein sequences from a particular microorganism are compared to known autoimmune immunogens. For diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), where the infectious agent is unknown, guesses to its identity are made. Mimics are assumed to be rare. This study takes a radically different approach. Reported sequences from all known human bacterial and viral agents were searched for autoimmune immunogen mimics. Three encephalitogenic peptides, whose autoimmune requirements have been studied extensively, were selected for comparison. Mimics were seen in a wide variety of organisms. For each immunogen, the mimics were found predominantly in nonpathogenic gut bacteria. Since the three immunogens used in this study are related to MS, it is suggested that a microorganism responsible for autoimmune activity in MS could be a normally occurring gut bacterium. This would explain many of the peculiar MS epidemiological data and why no infective agent has been identified for MS and supports recently found MS gut metabolism abnormalities.
This article was published in J Clin Microbiol
and referenced in Immunome Research