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1.  Autoimmunity as a Result of Escape from RNA Surveillance 
In previous studies we detected a frame shift mutation in the gene encoding the autoantigen La of a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. The mutant La mRNA contains a premature termination codon. mRNAs that prematurely terminate translation should be eliminated by RNA quality control mechanisms. As we find Abs specific for the mutant La form in about 30% of sera from anti-La positive patients we expected that mutant La mRNAs circumvent RNA control and the expression of mutant La protein could become harmful. Indeed, realtime PCR, immunostaining, and immunoblotting data of mice transgenic for the mutant La form show that mutant La mRNAs are not repressed in these animals and are translated to mutant La protein. In addition to the mutant La protein, we detected a minor portion of native human La in the mutant La transgenic mice. Therefore, ribosomal frame shifting may allow the mutant La mRNA to escape from RNA control. Interestingly, expression of the mutant La mRNA results in a lupus like disease in the experimental mice. Consequently, escape of mutant La mRNA from RNA control can have two effects: It (i) results in the expression of an immunogenic (neo)epitope, and (ii) predisposes to autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2206679  PMID: 16849479

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