The RNA interference pathway: a new target for autoimmunity

Arthritis Res Ther. 2006;8(4):110. doi: 10.1186/ar1987.


Many intracellular macromolecular complexes that are involved in the production or degradation of RNAs are targeted by autoantibodies in systemic autoimmune diseases. RNA interference (RNAi) is a recently characterized gene silencing pathway by which specific mRNAs are either degraded or translationally suppressed. In a recent issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy, Andrew Jakymiw and colleagues reported that the enigmatic Su autoantigen complex contains key components of the RNAi machinery. Anti-Su autoantibodies from both human patients with rheumatic diseases and a mouse model of autoimmunity recognize the endonucleolytic Argonaute and Dicer proteins, both crucial enzymes of the RNAi pathway. These data raise the question of how the anti-Su response is triggered. So far, it is unknown whether molecular modifications may be involved, as has been proposed for other intracellular autoantigens. The implication of RNAi in anti-viral defence may suggest a role for virus infection in this process.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / immunology
  • RNA Interference / immunology*


  • Proteins
  • Su autoantigen