The autoreactivity of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV)-neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb) AC1 was examined in vitro and in vivo. Both mAb AC1 and a human antiserum reactive with U1-small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (U1-snRNP) stained uninfected mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) in a speckled nuclear pattern and reacted with 70,000 molecular weight (MW) MEF nuclear antigens by immunoblotting, suggesting that mAb AC1 cross-reacted with the 70,000 MW component of U1-snRNP. However, only mAb AC1 cross-reacted with an additional epithelial cytoplasmic autoantigen present in cultured HEp2 cells. On tissue sections from uninfected mice, mAb AC1 predominantly reacted with a component of central and peripheral nervous systems, although cross-reactivity with the stratum spinosum of the skin and the outer sheath of hair follicles was also observed. Immunoblotting revealed that mAb AC1 reacted with phosphorylated epitopes present on a 98,000 MW MCMV structural protein and the 200,000 MW mouse neurofilament protein (NFP). Treatment of uninfected mice with mAb AC1 resulted in a severe interstitial pneumonia with greatly thickened and congested alveolar septa. Severe oedema of the hypodermis and a mild mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis were also observed. These results demonstrate that a mAb reacting with a MCMV structural phosphoprotein which can protect mice against the dissemination of MCMV, can also promote the development of autoimmune disease. Therefore, the production of such cross-reactive antibodies may be an important mechanism in the development of autoimmunity following viral infection.
|Publication status||Published - 1994|