Oligoclonal and cloned T lines from peripheral blood or thymuses of patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) were selected for reactivity against nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChR) from Torpedo california, or against a recombinant fusion peptide, X4, representing the extracellular portion of the mouse AChR alpha-chain. All cell lines expressed the CD4 membrane phenotype, and their antigen reactivity was blocked by antibodies against monomorphic HLA DR/DP determinants. Using a panel of fusion proteins of different, overlapping mouse AChR alpha-chain sequences, a major T cell epitope was localized between amino acid positions 85 and 142. This determinant was distinct from the humoral main immunogenic region, which has been identified on the sequence 61-76. The response pattern of uncloned T lines from three patients with different HLA haplotypes suggests, however, that in any one MG patient T lymphocytes may recognize more than one autoantigenic epitope on the AChR alpha-chain, and that the T lymphocyte response profiles vary among individual patients.


A Melms, S Chrestel, B C Schalke, H Wekerle, A Mauron, M Ballivet, T Barkas


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