Although anti-DNA autoantibodies are an important hallmark of lupus, the relationships among anti-DNA structure, reactivity, and pathogenicity have not been fully elucidated. To further investigate these relationships, we compare the variable genes and primary structure of eight anti-DNA mAbs previously obtained from an MRL/MpJ-lpr/lpr mouse along with the ability of three representative mAbs to induce nephritis in nonautoimmune mice using established adoptive transfer protocols. One monospecific anti-single- stranded (ss) DNA (11F8) induces severe diffuse proliferative glomerulonephritis in nonautoimmune mice whereas another anti-ssDNA with apparently similar in vitro binding properties (9F11) and an anti-double- stranded DNA (4B2) are essentially benign. These results establish a murine model of anti-DNA-induced glomerular injury resembling the severe nephritis seen in lupus patients and provide direct evidence that anti-ssDNA can be more pathogenic than anti-double-stranded DNA. In vitro binding experiments using both protein-DNA complexes and naive kidney tissue indicate that glomerular localization of 11F8 may occur by recognition of a planted antigen in vive. Binding to this antigen is DNase sensitive which suggests that DNA or a DNA-containing molecule is being recognized.
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