V region gene analysis of human IgM hybridoma monoclonal anti-Sm antibodies
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Anti-Sm antibodies although highly specific for systemic lupus erythematosus can only be found in 10-25% of lupus patients and lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice. Molecular studies of these autoantibodies from mice have suggested that the anti-Sm response is Ag driven, its expression is controlled by stochastic events and may originate from the same B cell precursors as anti-DNA antibodies. However, relatively little information regarding the molecular characteristics of anti-Sm antibodies in man has been reported. We studied the V region genes of three IgM hybridoma monoclonal antibodies (BUD 45.12.8, BUD 114.4.11 and BUD 94.91.8) which were selected for Sm reactivity and derived from B cells of a healthy child. Two of these antibodies BUD 45.12.8 and BUD 114.4.11 also reacted with ssDNA, while the third (BUD 94.91.8) did not. Each of these anti-Sm/RNP antibodies was encoded by different and predominantly unmutated Ig heavy chain germline genes (BUD 45.12.8 by V(H)3-23, DXP4 and J(H)4b; BUD 94.91.8 by V(H)3-33, D21-9 and J(H)6b; BUD 114.4.11 by V(H)1-2, DK1 or DM1 or unknown D and J(H)4b) and light chain genes (BUD 45.12.8 by Humkv325 and Jκ2; BUD 94.91.8 by hsiggll150 (λIIIb) and Jλ2/3; BUD 114.4.11 by Humk18 and Jκ3). Many of these genes are also used by antibodies with other specificities including DNA. The two anti-Sm antibodies which also bound ssDNA shared an overall V region net positive charge, while the third antibody without ssDNA reactivity carried a negative V region net charge. These findings demonstrate that (1) normal individuals have the genetic potential to generate autoantibodies to Sm/RNP; (2) acquisition of Sm/RNP binding is not dependent on somatic mutations and (3) some human B cell clones exhibit specificity for Sm and ssDNA.