Identification of a 2-Md plasmid from Shigella flexneri associated with reactive arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 1989 Aug;32(8):937-46. doi: 10.1002/anr.1780320802.


The development of reactive arthritis, a sterile inflammatory polyarthropathy that primarily affects HLA-B27 positive individuals, has been associated with previous enteric infections caused by various gram-negative bacteria. The possibility that a common bacterial epitope triggers the disease was investigated by screening a panel of documented arthritogenic Shigella strains as well as 2 epidemic-associated nonarthritogenic Shigella controls. A 2-Md plasmid specific to the arthritogenic strains was identified and sequenced. The plasmid encodes a number of small peptides that could be related to the development of reactive arthritis. Within 1 of these is a stretch of 5 consecutive amino acids, inferred from the DNA sequence and contained within an open reading frame, that is homologous to amino acid residues 71-75 of the polymorphic region of the alpha 1 domain of HLA-B27. The data indicate that there is a bacterial plasmid common to arthritogenic Shigella strains that may play a role in triggering reactive arthritis. The finding that this plasmid encodes an epitope shared with HLA-B27 suggests that molecular mimicry may play a role in the induction of this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arthritis, Infectious / etiology*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / immunology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Epitopes / genetics
  • HLA-B Antigens / analysis
  • HLA-B Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-B Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Plasmids*
  • Salmonella / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Shigella flexneri / genetics*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Epitopes
  • HLA-B Antigens
  • HLA-B27 Antigen