Objective: To analyze spontaneous T cell spreading against determinants of the U1-70K protein in young autoimmune MRL/lpr lupus mice, in comparison with the T cell spreading occurring in normal BALB/c mice immunized with peptide 131-151 of this protein.
Methods: Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from both unprimed MRL/lpr mice and immunized BALB/c mice were tested for their ability to proliferate ex vivo in response to 18 overlapping peptides of the U1-70K spliceosomal protein, using assays for lymphocyte proliferation and secretion of interleukin-2.
Results: The proliferative response to peptides of the U1-70K protein evolved rapidly in MRL/lpr mice tested at different ages. At least 5 peptides were recognized by PBLs from 8-week-old autoimmune mice, whereas a different peptide was recognized by PBLs from MRL/lpr mice at 12 weeks of age. At 15 weeks, the proliferative response was weak or negative when assessed with any of the test peptides. At least 2 major peptides recognized by MRL/lpr PBLs were also recognized by PBLs generated in the BALB/c mice primed with peptide 131-151. We further demonstrated that, in preautoimmune MRL/lpr mice, repeated administration of phosphorylated peptide 131-151 (called P140), which was shown previously to be protective, transiently abolished T cell intramolecular spreading to other regions of the 70K protein.
Conclusion: This is the first study to demonstrate that intramolecular T cell spreading effectively occurs in MRL/lpr mice with lupus, and that region 131-151 is important in the cascade of events observed in the murine lupus response. This sequence might originate a mechanism of tolerance spreading that leads to the beneficial effect observed in MRL/lpr mice after treatment with the phosphorylated peptide 131-151.
Copyright 2004 American College of Rheumatology