Characterization of a high molecular weight acidic nuclear protein recognized by autoantibodies in sera from patients with polymyositis-scleroderma overlap

J Clin Invest. 1981 Sep;68(3):611-20. doi: 10.1172/jci110295.


Autoantibodies in the serum from a patient with connective tissue disease have been used to define a high molecule weight acidic nuclear protein antigen. The antigen tentatively termed Ku, after the first two letters of patient's name, has distinct physicochemical properties and immunological specificities that distinguish it from previously reported antigens. The Ku antigen has an apparent 300,000 mol wt as determined by gel filtration and sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation techniques. The antigen is destroyed by trypsin, mild heating, and pH variations greater than 10 and less than 5. Treatment with ribonuclease or deoxyribonuclease did not affect the antigenic reactivity. The Ku antigen was demonstrated in the soluble extracts of human, calf, and rabbit, but not of rat tissues. Purified antibody localized the Ku antigen within the nuclei of human liver where a "reticular" pattern of immunofluorescence was seen. Of 330 patients with various connective tissue diseases, 9 had precipitating antibodies to the Ku antigen. Preliminary results of clinical analysis indicated that antibody to the Ku antigen might become a useful marker for a group of patients with clinical characteristics of both polymyositis and scleroderma with a good prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens / isolation & purification*
  • Autoantibodies*
  • Autoantigens / isolation & purification*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / immunology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Liver / immunology
  • Myositis / immunology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antigens
  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone