Spectrum and clinical significance of autoantibodies against transfer RNA

Yasuo Ohosone, Mutsuko Ishida, Yoshiko Takahashi, Mami Matsumura, Michito Hirakata, Yoshie Kawahara, Takeji Nishikawa, Tsuneyo Mimori

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. To characterize the clinical features of patients who have autoantibodies against transfer RNA (tRNA) or tRNA-associated proteins. Methods. Sera from 1,472 patients with suspected systemic rheumatic disease were screened by RNA immunoprecipitation of HeLa cell extracts. The specificities of the antibodies that precipitated tRNAs were further analyzed by immunoprecipitation using deproteinized RNAs and 35S-methionine-labeled HeLa cell extracts, followed by immunoblotting. Results. Forty-one serum samples (2.8%) were found to immunoprecipitate tRNAs. Thirteen patients were identified as having previously defined antiaminoacyl-tRNA synthetase antibodies (anti-histidyl-tRNA synthetase in 4 patients, anti-threonyl-tRNA synthetase in 1, anti-alanyl-tRNA synthetase in 3, antiglycyl-tRNA synthetase in 4, and anti-isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase in 1). All 13 patients had myositis and/or interstitial pneumonitis. Sera from the remaining 28 patients immunoprecipitated previously unidentified tRNAs, including 13 serum samples that bound deproteinized cognate tRNA; 24 of the 28 patients met criteria for either systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or Sjogren's syndrome (SS). In addition, nonerosive polyarthritis, leukocytopenia, rheumatoid factor, and characteristic annular or papulosquamous recurrent erythema were noted in these patients; however, renal involvement was rare. Sera from 16 of these 28 patients also contained anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies. While 189 patient sera precipitated Ro/SSA and/or La/SSB-associated RNAs but not tRNA, only 12 of the patients (6.3%) developed skin lesions (P = 0.0009, odds ratio 8.85). Conclusion. Novel autoantibodies against tRNAs or tRNA-associated proteins were identified in 28 sera. These autoantibodies appear to be distinct from antiaminoacyl-tRNA synthetase antibodies and are associated with SLE and SS. The presence of anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB along with anti-tRNA antibodies is more strongly associated with recurrent erythema than is the presence of anti-Ro/SSA or anti-La/SSB alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1625-1631
Number of pages7
JournalArthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Sept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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