Autoantibody to the nucleosome subunit (H2A-H2B)-DNA is an early and ubiquitous feature of lupus-like conditions

Mol Biol Rep. 1996;23(3-4):159-66. doi: 10.1007/BF00351164.


Chromatin, a huge polymer of nucleosomes, has been implicated as an important target of autoantibodies in idiopathic and drug-induced lupus for decades, but the antigenicity of chromatin has only recently been dissected. IgG reactivity with the (H2A-H2B)-DNA complex, a subunit of the nucleosome, is present in the majority of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, in > 90% of patients with lupus induced by procainamide and in individual patients with lupus induced by a variety of other drugs, but is not seen in people taking these medications who are clinically asymptomatic. Anti-[(H2A-H2B)-DNA] accounted for the bulk of the anti-chromatin activity in drug-induced lupus. The earliest detectable autoantibody in lupus-prone mice recognized similar epitopes in the (H2A-H2B)-DNA subnucleosome complex; as the immune response progressed, native DNA and other constituents of chromatin became antigenic. The importance of chromatin-reactive T cells in the anti-[(H2A-H2B)-DNA] response is suggested by the presence of somatic mutations in antibody VH and VL regions, their predominant IgG isotype and the similarity in kinetics of their production to that of conventional T cell dependent antigens. Together with the serologic data from human lupus-like disease, these results are consistent with chromatin being a common stimulant for both B and T cells. While chromatin-reactive antibodies are closely associated with systemic disease and have recently been implicated in glomerulonephritis in SLE, the absence of renal disease in drug-induced lupus indicates that additional abnormalities are required to manifest the serious pathogenic of anti-[(H2A-H2B)-DNA] antibodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • DNA / immunology
  • Histones / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Nucleosomes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Histones
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Nucleosomes
  • DNA