Anti-dsDNA Abs are highly specific indicators of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and play a pathogenic role in lupus nephritis. Human anti-dsDNA Abs are most likely generated by an Ag-driven mechanism. However, the Ag responsible for triggering antidsDNA Ab production has not been identified. To search for proteins that are cross-reactive with anti-dsDNA Abs, we screened a cDNA library from a patient with SLE with single-chain Fv of O-81 human anti-ss/dsDNA mAb by using a two-hybrid system. Homocysteine-induced ER protein (Herp), an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-inducible ER membrane protein, was identified and shown to bind to original O-81 Ab and human lupus anti-dsDNA Abs. Some IgG purified from patients with active SLE by Herp-immobilized affinity chromatography bound to dsDNA. BALB/c mice immunized with Herp showed IgG anti-dsDNA Abs, IgG anti-nucleosome Abs, and glomerular IgG deposition. Herp reactivity was strongly positive in a proportion of PBLs from patients with active SLE, but undetectable in those from healthy controls. Moreover, activation of caspases was observed in the Herp-positive cells, implying that ER stress-induced apoptosis likely occurs in patients with active SLE. Herp is exposed on blebs of ER stress-induced apoptotic cells, suggesting that Herp can be recognized by immune cells. These results indicate that Herp mimics structural determinants of DNA immunologically and can be immunogenic in vivo. Thus, Herp represents a candidate autoantigen for anti-DNA Abs. This study may help explain how common environmental factors induce the production of anti-DNA Abs and contribute the development of SLE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy