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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Multiple overlapping homologies between two rheumatoid antigens and immunosuppressive viruses.

Amino acid (aa) sequence homologies between viruses and autoimmune nuclear antigens are suggestive of viral involvement in disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus ( SLE) and scleroderma. We analyzed the frequency of exact homologies of greater than or equal to 5 aa between 61 viral proteins (19,827 aa), 8 nuclear antigens (3813 aa), and 41 control proteins (11,743 aa). Both pentamer and hexamer homologies between control proteins and viruses are unexpectedly abundant, with hexamer matches occurring in 1 of 3 control proteins (or once every 769 aa). However, 2 nuclear antigens, the SLE- associated 70-kDa antigen and the scleroderma- associated CENP-B protein, are highly unusual in containing multiple homologies to a group of synergizing immunosuppressive viruses. Two viruses, herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1), contain sequences exactly duplicated at 15 sites in the 70-kDa antigen and at 10 sites in CENP-B protein. The immediate-early (IE) protein of HSV-1, which activates HIV-1 regulatory functions, contains three homologies to the 70-kDa antigen (two hexamers and a pentamer) and two to CENP-B (a hexamer and pentamer). There are four homologies (including a hexamer) common to the 70-kDa antigen and Epstein-Barr virus, and three homologies (including two hexamers) common to CENP-B and cytomegalovirus. The majority of homologies in both nuclear antigens are clustered in highly charged C-terminal domains containing epitopes for human autoantibodies. Furthermore, most homologies have a contiguous or overlapping distribution, thereby creating a high density of potential epitopes. In addition to the exact homologies tabulated, motifs of matching sequences are repeated frequently in these domains. Our analysis suggests that coexpression of heterologous viruses having common immunosuppressive functions may generate autoantibodies cross-reacting with certain nuclear proteins.[1]


  1. Multiple overlapping homologies between two rheumatoid antigens and immunosuppressive viruses. Douvas, A., Sobelman, S. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1991) [Pubmed]
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