Unlike parental NZB or NZW mice, (NZB X NZW)F1 mice exhibit a lupus-like disease characterized by high serum levels of IgG antinuclear antibodies and a fatal immune-complex glomerulonephritis. At least three unlinked gene loci can be distinguished in NZW mice that conceivably contribute to a T cell-dependent autoimmune disease, including the MHC (H-2z) and the T cell receptor alpha and beta chain gene complexes. We undertook an (NZB X NZW)F1 X NZB backcross to determine the relative contribution of these NZW genes to lupus-like renal disease and autoantibody production in F1 mice. The incidence of severe renal disease and elevated levels of IgG antibodies to dsDNA and histone in the backcross mice was approximately half of that observed in (NZB X NZW)F1 mice. Furthermore, there was a strong correlation between the presence of the NZW H-2z haplotype and lupus-like disease in backcross mice. Approximately 90% of backcross mice with disease carried the NZW H-2z locus compared with 16% of mice without disease; nearly 90% of H-2d/z mice expressed severe autoimmune disease. In contrast, no association was apparent between the presence of the NZW T cell receptor alpha chain gene complex or beta chain gene complex and severe renal disease or autoantibody production. Thus, the NZW MHC or gene(s) linked to this locus appear to be the only dominant NZW genetic contribution to F1 disease.

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