Autoantibodies from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus bind a shared sequence of SmD and Epstein-Barr virus-encoded nuclear antigen EBNA I

Eur J Immunol. 1993 May;23(5):1146-52. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830230525.


SmD is one of the small nuclear ribonucleoproteins frequently targeted by autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus. We isolated and characterized the antibodies present in lupus sera that are specific for the C-terminal region of SmD (sequence 95-119). This region is highly homologous to sequence 35-58 of the EBNA I antigen, one of the nuclear antigens induced by infection with Epstein-Barr virus. Antibodies affinity purified over a peptide 95-119 column were able to recognize this sequence in the context of the whole SmD molecule, as they reacted with blotted recombinant SmD. Anti-SmD 95-119 antibodies bound also the EBNA I 35-58 peptide and detected the EBNA I molecule in a total cell extract from Epstein-Barr virus-infected lines. A population of anti-SmD antibodies is, therefore, able to bind an epitope shared by the autoantigen and the viral antigen EBNA I. To investigate the involvement of this shared epitope in the generation of anti-SmD antibodies, we immunized mice with the EBNA I 35-58 peptide. Sera from immunized animals displayed the same pattern of reactivity of spontaneously produced anti-SmD antibodies. They reacted in fact with the EBNA peptide as well as with SmD 95-119 and recombinant SmD. These data suggest that molecular mimicry may play a role in the induction of anti-SmD autoantibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology*
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / immunology*
  • snRNP Core Proteins


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • snRNP Core Proteins