• Cytochrome P450IID6;
  • Antigenic sites;
  • Anti-LKM1;
  • Autoimmune hepatitis;
  • Recombinant proteins


Anti-liver-kidney microsome type-1 antibodies (LKM1), present in sera from a group of patients with autoimmune hepatitis, are directed against P450IID6. Previous work, using cDNA constructions spanning most of the P450IID6 protein defined the main immunogenic site between the amino acids (aa), 254–271 and predicted the presence of other putative immunogenic sites in the molecule. Fusion proteins from new cDNA constructions, spanning so-far-untested regions between aa 1–125 and 431–522, were not recognized by LKM1-positive sera. Synthetic peptides, representing sequences from putative immunogenic regions or previously untested regions, allowed a precise definition of four antigenic sites located between peptides 257–269, 321–351, 373–389 and 410–429, which were recognized, respectively, by 14, 8, 1 and 2 out of 15 LKM1-positive sera tested. The minimal sequence of the main antigenic site (peptide 257-269) recognized by the autoantibody was established to be WDPAQPPRD (peptide 262–270). In addition, deletion and replacement experiments showed that aa 263 (Asp) was essential for the binding of the autoantibody to peptide 262–270. Analysis of the second most frequently recognized peptide between aa 321–351, was performed using peptides 321–339 and 340–351 in competitive inhibition studies. Complete elimination of antibody binding to peptide 321–351 obtained by absorption of both shorter peptides indicated that peptide 321–351 is a discontinuous antigenic site. LKM1-positive sera reacting against peptide 321–351 recognized either both the shorter peptides or just one of them preferentially. Results of the present study suggest that the production of LKM1 antibodies is an antigen-driven, poly-or oligoclonal B cell response. The identification of antigenic sites will allow: (i) the development of specific diagnostic tests and (ii) further studies on the pathogenic value of LKM1 antibodies in autoimmune hepatitis.