The cytoskeleton is a complex network of proteins that maintain cell shape, mobility, and organelle function. Its components can be divided into three distinct classes: microfilaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments. Fimbrins are microfilament proteins, a family of cytoplasmic phosphoproteins. Expression of the L-fimbrin isoform is restricted to replicating blood cells and expression of the T-fimbrin isoform to replicating cells of solid tissues. Sera from normals and from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, osteoarthritis, vasculitis, scleroderma, and mixed connective tissue disease were tested for the presence of antibodies to T- and L-fimbrin by ELISA, using purified recombinant fimbrin. The mean OD of sera from SLE patients was significantly higher than in normals (T-fimbrin, P less than 0.0001; L-fimbrin, P less than 0.001). 48 of 98 SLE sera had antibodies to T-fimbrin; 32 had antibodies to L-fimbrin; 20 had antibodies to both; 28 had only anti-T, and 12 had only anti-L-fimbrin. The mean OD for sera of the other rheumatic diseases was not significantly different from normals. The presence of either L- or T-fimbrin antibody was associated with pleuropericarditis (P = 0.015), photosensitivity (P = 0.011), and anti-Sm antibody (P = 0.010). Central nervous system SLE was associated with the presence of the L-fimbrin antibody alone (P = 0.016). There was a strong association between DR7 (but not other MHC alleles) and anti-L-fimbrin antibodies in SLE patients (chi square = 18; P less than 0.00002). No MHC association was observed with anti-T-fimbrin antibodies.
E C De Mendonca Neto, A Kumar, N A Shadick, A M Michon, P Matsudaira, R B Eaton, P Kumar, P H Schur