Striational autoantibodies (StrAb), which react with elements of skeletal muscle cross-striations, occur frequently in patients with thymoma associated with myasthenia gravis (MG). Dissociated thymic lymphocytes from 22 of 72 MG patients secreted StrAb when cultured with PWM. A high yield of EBV-transformed B cell lines was established from thymus, thymoma, and peripheral blood of seven patients with MG, but clones secreting StrAb arose only from the three patients who had StrAb in their sera. The monoclonal StrAb bound to A bands or I bands in skeletal muscle of human, rat, and frog. One bound to mitochondria in addition to myofibrillar I bands. None bound to nuclei, smooth muscle, or gastric mucosal cells. In immunoblot analyses and ELISAs the monoclonal StrAb bound to muscle and nonmuscle isotypes of myosin, alpha actinin, and/or actin. All bound to contractile proteins common to thymus and muscle, and one selectively immunostained epithelial cells of the thymic medulla. From these antigenic specificities we suggest that StrAb might arise as an immune response directed against the cytoskeletal anchoring proteins associated with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in thymic epithelial cells undergoing neoplastic transformation to thymoma.

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