The association of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) RNAs with ribonucleoprotein particles that react with antibodies from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus was tested by immunoprecipitation with multiple patients' sera. A major late 2.8 kb RNA and several minor RNAs encoded by the HCMV long repeat region were immunoprecipitated from HCMV-infected cells by La, Ro and, much less abundantly, Sm autoimmune antisera. The exact location of these RNAs was determined by high resolution R-loop mapping and found to be between 0.8093 and 0.8189 map units. The 2.8 kb RNA is polyadenylated and associated with polysomes but does not appear to be spliced. Immunoprecipitation was not seen using normal or other autoimmune antisera. In addition, immunoprecipitation was specific to these RNAs in that other abundant HCMV RNAs were not immunoprecipitated. It was also found that the addition of increasing amounts of purified La antigen to infected cell lysates inhibited immunoprecipitation of the 2.8 kb RNA by La antiserum. The data suggest that specific HCMV RNAs may interact with cellular ribonucleoproteins known to be involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.

Keyword(s): HCMV and SLE

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