Objective: We have recently found that the presence of autoantibodies against the 70-kd polypeptide of U1 RNP (U1-70-kd) is associated with HLA-DR4 and DR2. To further characterize this association, we performed a molecular genetic analysis of HLA-DR and DQ genes among patients with autoantibodies against U1-70-kd.
Methods: The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), sequence-specific oligonucleotide hybridization, and solid-phase direct DNA sequencing of PCR-amplified DNA were utilized to analyze HLA-DRB1, DRB5, DQA1, and DQB1 genes.
Results: A comprehensive analysis of HLA-DRB1, DRB5, DQA1, and DQB1 from 27 patients and controls identified shared amino acids FDYFYQA (Phe, Asp, Tyr, Phe, Tyr, Gln, Ala) at positions 26, 28, 30-32, 70, and 73 of HLA-DRB1 on disease-associated haplotypes.
Conclusion: A common cluster of shared amino acids, or a shared epitope, identified within HLA-DRB1 among anti-U1-70-kd autoantibody positive connective tissue disease patients may be important in regulating an autoimmune response to the U1-70-kd antigen.