Expression of autoimmune disease-related antigens by cells of the immune system

Felix Mor*, Graciela L. Boccaccio, Tamar Unger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of thymic selection is critical for the generation of the mature T-cell repertoire, yet the nature of the self-peptides that serve this function is not known. Several studies suggest that tissue-specific auto- antigens are expressed in the thymus. We initiated this study to examine the expression of a panel of auto-antigens related to several autoimmune diseases in the thymus, peripheral lymphoid organs, and various cell lines. We looked for the expression of these antigens by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis, immunoblotting, and immunoprecipitation. We found that in the thymus there is evidence for the expression of a wide variety of disease-related self- antigens including myelin antigens, insulin, cardiac myosin, and retinal S antigen. By FACS analysis, several monoclonal anti-myelin basic protein antibodies were found to bind to immune cells. In Western blotting, we could find in the thymus and other lymphoid organs the expression of myelin basic protein, proteolipid protein, and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase; in contrast, the staining for myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, microtubule- associated Tau protein, and insulin were negative in these organs. The results of these studies confirm that there is evidence for the expression of a variety of auto-antigens in the immune system, both at the mRNA and protein levels, potentially enabling them to participate in the process of thymic education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmunity
  • Myelin basic protein
  • Myelin proteolipid protein
  • Repertoire selection
  • Thymus


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