The anti-Smith (Sm) autoantibody response is highly specific for systemic lupus erythematosus and is predominantly targeted to the Sm-B/B' and -D1 polypeptides. In all animal species thus far studied, anti-Sm Abs initially recognize proline-rich epitopes in the carboxyl terminus of the Sm-B/B' protein and subsequently to multiple other epitopes in B/B' and D. The absence of appropriate mAbs has limited our understanding of the genetic and structural basis of this autoimmune response. Using phage-display technology and lymphocytes from a systemic lupus erythematosus patient we have generated the first and only panel of human IgG anti-Sm mAbs thus far available. These Abs reproduced to a remarkable extent the serological reactivity of the patient. Epitope mapping and genetic studies revealed that the anti-Sm response is produced by distinct B cell clones with restricted epitope reactivity. All of the Abs in our study were exclusively encoded by different members of the V(H)4 gene family. On the aggregate, our results demonstrate that combinatorial libraries can recapitulate the immune repertoire of peripheral blood B memory cells and that epitope spreading appears to occur through the sequential recruitment of nonclonally related autoreactive B cell clones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy