Tissue specific non-MHC alloantigens play a crucial role in allograft immunity. However, their structural properties have remained elusive, largely due to their inability to induce a strong antibody response. We report the characterization of a monkey heteroantiserum, MHK-I, raised against human kidney cells, that serologically reacts specifically with kidney cells after extensive absorptions of anti-HLA class I and II reactivities. The non-MHC MHK-I-binding molecule(s) is expressed only in the renal cortex on the glomerulus, peritubular capillaries, venous endothelium, and tubular epithelium. Immunochemically, MHK-I recognizes a kidney-specific non-MHC alloantigen of Mr 90,000 to 100,000 (90 kD). These properties of MHK-I are similar to those of the previously characterized alloantibodies eluted from rejected kidneys. These alloantibodies bind to the kidney from which the antibody was eluted and to a few others but are unlike MHK-I, which binds to extracts prepared from all human kidneys. Biochemical analysis by two-dimensional electrophoresis (pI ranging between 4.5 and 5.5) and peptide fingerprinting provide further evidence that the alloantigen is polymorphic. These findings imply that the non-MHC kidney-specific molecule(s) may function as target(s) for immune destruction of renal allografts.
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