A nonamer peptide from murine nicotinic acetylcholine receptor delta chain (ACR delta), which shared four amino acid residues with a nonamer peptide of murine ovarian zona pellucida glycoprotein ZP3, induced murine autoimmune oophoritis and IgG autoantibody to the zona pellucida. Crossreaction between the ACR delta and ZP3 peptides was established by the response of a ZP3 peptide-specific, oophoritogenic T cell clone to both peptides in association with IA (alpha k beta b). By substituting the ZP3 peptides with a single alanine, four amino acids within the ZP3 peptide were found to be important for ovarian autoimmune disease, autoantibody response, and stimulation of the ZP3-specific T cell clone. Substitution with conservative amino acids of three residues also ablated activity, whereas the fourth, a phenylalanine, was replaceable by tyrosine without loss of activity. Of the four critical amino acids, three were shared between the ZP3 peptide and the ACR delta peptide. Moreover, polyalanine peptides with the four critical ZP3 amino acids or the four amino acids common to the ZP3 and ACR delta peptides induced immune response to ZP3 and elicited severe ovarian autoimmune disease. Thus, organ-specific autoimmune disease can occur through immune response against unrelated self (or foreign) peptides that share with a self-peptide sufficient common amino acid residues critical for activation of pathogenic, autoreactive T cells.


A M Luo, K M Garza, D Hunt, K S Tung


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