A cDNA library was prepared from peripheral blood lymphocytes of an autoimmune patient with primary Sjögrens' syndrome. The cDNA library was screened with the patients own autoimmune serum being monospecific for the nuclear autoantigen La/SS-B. Thereby an alternative type of La mRNA was identified that differed from the known La mRNA due to an exchange of the exon 1. Sequencing of the genomic region between the exons 1 and 2 showed that the alternative 5'-end is a part of the intron. In addition, the presence of an alternative promoter site, which exists within the intron downstream of the exon 1, became evident. In consequence, the alternative La mRNA is the result of a promoter switching combined with an alternative splicing mechanism. In the intron, further transcription factor binding sites, including a NF-kappa B element, were identified leading to the suggestion that the expression of the gene encoding for the nuclear autoantigen La/SS-B alters in dependence on disease conditions.

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