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

The 64-kilodalton eye muscle protein is the flavoprotein subunit of mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase: the corresponding serum antibodies are good markers of an immune-mediated damage to the eye muscle in patients with Graves' hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) is a progressive eye disorder associated with thyroid autoimmunity, particularly Graves' hyperthyroidism, which is generally considered to have an autoimmune etiology. Eye muscle membrane proteins reportedly of 55 and 64 kDa are the best markers of the ophthalmopathy. The main focus of our recent studies has been to purify the pertinent proteins from porcine eye muscle membranes and characterize them. The 64-kDa protein is now shown from a partial sequence and by Western blotting using specific antibody probes to be the flavoprotein ( Fp) subunit of succinate dehydrogenase and to have a correct molecular mass of 67 kDa. The protein was purified and cleaved with cyanogen bromide, and the N-terminal region of an immunoreactive partial peptide was determined. The 20-amino acid porcine sequence so obtained matched one within the Fp subunits of human and bovine succinate dehydrogenases in 20 and 18 of these positions, respectively. Succinate dehydrogenase is both a citric acid cycle enzyme and a component (complex II) of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. It is thus essential for aerobic energy production and is highly conserved. The mature human and bovine Fp subunits are 92% homologous and have a molecular mass of approximately 67 kDa, the same as our redetermined value for the 64-kDa marker protein. Sera from patients with TAO and from those with Graves' hyperthyroidism without evident ophthalmopathy highlighted the 64-kDa marker protein in crude porcine eye muscle membranes and the Fp subunit of highly purified bovine succinate dehydrogenase at the identical position on Western blots. Anti-beef Fp antibodies were detected in sera from 67% of patients with active TAO of more than 1-yr duration, in 30% with stable TAO of more than 3-yr duration, and in 30% of patients with Graves' hyperthyroidism without ophthalmopathy, but in only 7% of age- and sex-matched normal subjects. As succinate dehydrogenase is bound to the matrix (inside) surface of the mitochondrial inner membrane, it is unlikely to be accessible to circulating autoantibodies. We would postulate that eye muscle damage in ophthalmopathy is probably caused by cytotoxic antibodies or CD+ T lymphocytes targeting a cell membrane antigen, such as the thyroid and eye muscle shared protein G2s, and that presentation of succinate dehydrogenase is secondary. On the other hand, an autoantibody response to succinate dehydrogenase may be a good marker of immune-mediated damage to the eye muscle fiber and may support the idea that the extraocular muscles are targets of the autoimmune reactions of TAO.[1]


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