Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) frequently have autoantibodies against a 210-kD integral glycoprotein of the nuclear envelope pore membrane. This protein, termed gp210, has a 1,783-amino acid amino-terminal domain located in the perinuclear space, a 20-amino acid transmembrane segment, and a 58-amino acid cytoplasmic carboxy-terminal tail. We now demonstrate that autoantibodies from 25 patients with PBC that recognize gp210 react with the cytoplasmic carboxy-terminal tail while none react with unmodified linear epitopes in the amino-terminal domain. The epitope(s) recognized by autoantibodies from all 25 patients is contained within a stretch of 15 amino acids. The recognized amino acid sequence is homologous to the protein products of the Escherichia coli mutY gene and Salmonella typhimurium mutB gene with an exact identity of six consecutive amino acids, suggesting that anti-gp210 antibodies may arise by molecular mimicry of bacterial antigenic determinants.

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