Double-stranded DNA fragments of varying sizes were isolated and tested for binding to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) antinative DNA antibodies. Fragments of 20-25, 40-50, 90-110, and 160-180 base pairs (bp), along with intermediate-size pieces were isolated by preparative gel electrophoresis of a limited micrococcal nuclease digest of calf thymus DNA. Larger helical polynucleotides of 160-200, 380, 600-1,000, and 1,200 bp were isolated by preparative gel electrophoresis of DNA from chicken erythrocyte nucleosomes and oligonucleosomes. The fragments behaved as base-paired structures as tested by thermal denaturation, resistance to S1 nuclease, and serological assays with antibodies to native or denatured DNA. At a concentration of 0.27 muM, fragments of 20-25 bp were able to react with two SLE sera in competition with native DNA. With these and two other sera, DNA of 40-50 bp was a much more effective competitor. One serum required DNA greater than 180 bp for competition in the concentration range tested. Denatured fragments were much less effective than native fragments. The results emphasize the heterogeneity of SLE antinative DNA antibodies, confirm that secondary structure of the antigen is important for specific binding to these antibodies, and support the suggestion that bivalent binding to one molecule may be important for high functional affinity.
M Papalian, E Lafer, R Wong, B D Stollar