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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Autoimmune targeting of key components of RNA interference

Andrew Jakymiw1, Keigo Ikeda1, Marvin J Fritzler2, Westley H Reeves3, Minoru Satoh3 and Edward KL Chan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oral Biology, University of Florida, 1600 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1, Canada

3 Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, and Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida, 1600 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R87  doi:10.1186/ar1959

Published: 9 May 2006


RNA interference (RNAi) is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that is involved in the post-transcriptional silencing of genes. This process elicits the degradation or translational inhibition of mRNAs based on the complementarity with short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) or microRNAs (miRNAs). Recently, differential expression of specific miRNAs and disruption of the miRNA synthetic pathway have been implicated in cancer; however, their role in autoimmune disease remains largely unknown. Here, we report that anti-Su autoantibodies from human patients with rheumatic diseases and in a mouse model of autoimmunity recognize the human Argonaute (Ago) protein, hAgo2, the catalytic core enzyme in the RNAi pathway. More specifically, 91% (20/22) of the human anti-Su sera were shown to immunoprecipitate the full-length recombinant hAgo2 protein. Indirect immunofluorescence studies in HEp-2 cells demonstrated that anti-Su autoantibodies target cytoplasmic foci identified as GW bodies (GWBs) or mammalian P bodies, structures recently linked to RNAi function. Furthermore, anti-Su sera were also capable of immunoprecipitating additional key components of the RNAi pathway, including hAgo1, -3, -4, and Dicer. Together, these results demonstrate an autoimmune response to components of the RNAi pathway which could potentially implicate the involvement of an innate anti-viral response in the pathogenesis of autoantibody production.