The Immune Response to 52-kDa Ro and 60-kDa Ro Is Linked in Experimental Autoimmunity

Catherine L. Keech, Tom P. Gordon, James McCluskey

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73 Citations (Scopus)


Clustering of autoantibody specificities is a consistent finding in patients with systemic autoimmune diseases. Patients with Sjögren's syndrome frequently have autoantibodies to La, 60-kDa Ro(SS-A) protein (Ro60), and 52-kDa Ro(SS-A) protein (Ro52). In the case of anti-Ro60 and anti-La, there is evidence that these specificities occur together because of the physical association of the Ro60 and La proteins that form a ribonucleoprotein particle (RNP). Thus, the autoantibody response may spread from a single epitope to involve new epitopes located within other components of the RNP. The physical association of Ro52 with the Ro/La RNP has remained controversial, implying that Abs to Ro52 are not a consequence of intermolecular spreading and may be triggered independently of the anti-Ro60 response. To examine this relationship of the immune response to Ro52 and Ro60, mice were immunized with recombinant Ro52, Ro60, or La, and examined for autoantibody production. Immunization with Ro52 resulted in rapid, high titer Ab production to Ro52, followed 7 to 14 days later by lower titer autoantibody production to Ro60. Immunization with Ro60 led to anti-Ro60, which was also followed 7 to 14 days later by a lower titer anti-Ro52 response. Cross-reactivity of affinity-purified Abs from immune mouse sera was not observed. These observations suggest that the autoimmune responses to Ro60 and Ro52 are linked intrinsically, despite previous evidence suggesting they are not associated in vivo. The mechanism of linkage remains unclear, but the data are most consistent with some physical association of Ro52 and Ro60 allowing autoimmunization, presumably as a result of normal cell turnover or specific injury in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3694-3699
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 1996
Externally publishedYes


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