Identification of a cross-reactive self ligand in virus-mediated autoimmunity.
Ohteki T., Hessel A., Bachmann MF., Zakarian A., Sebzda E., Tsao MS., McKall-Faienza K., Odermatt B., Ohashi PS.
Molecular mimicry has been considered to be one of the potential mechanisms underlying the induction of autoimmune diseases. Using a TCR-transgenic model specific for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) we have examined the potential for cross-reactive recognition of tissue-restricted self peptides. Several peptides were identified that were able to cross-react with the TCR-transgenic virus-specific T cells in vitro. One peptide was derived from dopamine beta-mono-oxygenase, an enzyme expressed in the adrenal medulla. Interestingly, after activation of the transgenic T cells with LCMV glycoprotein peptides or viruses, infiltration of the adrenal medulla was detected in conjunction with alterations in dopamine metabolism. However, complete destruction of the adrenal medulla was not observed. This suggests that molecular mimicry may be sufficient for self recognition and infiltration, but other factors clearly contribute to chronic autoimmune disease.