Mycobacterial 65,000 MW heat-shock protein shares a carboxy-terminal epitope with human epidermal cytokeratin 1/2

A. Rambukkana, P. K. Das*, S. Krieg, S. Yong, I. C. Le Poole, J. D. Bos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Molecular mimicry between mycobacterial heat-shock protein (hsp) 65 and host tissue antigens have been implicated in the autoimmune pathogenesis of certain idiopathic diseases. Here, we demonstrated that two of our previously characterized monoclonal antibodies (mAb), Ne5 and Nd4 that were directed to a carboxy-terminal epitope on the mycobacterial hsp 65, specifically cross-reacted with suprabasal cytokeratin of the normal human skin. These mAb also showed similar keratin staining of hair follicle epithelia and produced no reaction with other dermal components. Both mAb strongly stained the cytoplasm of the majority of freshly isolated epidermal keratinocytes from the normal human skin. None of these mAb showed staining with human HeLa cells and with human skin fibroblasts. Immunoblotting using total keratin extract prepared from isolated epidermal keratinocytes revealed that mAb Ne5 and Nd4 specifically reacted with a molecular size of 65,000-67,000 MW keratin protein(s) and such reactivity was not observed from cytoskeletal proteins extracted from HeLa cells and skin fibroblasts. Comparison of immunoblotting reactivity with conventional anti-cytokeratin mAb further revealed that mAb Ne5/Nd4 recognized a 65,000-67,000 MW molecular-sized protein corresponding to cytokeratin 1/2 from the same keratinocyte extract as anti-cytokeratin mAb. Preincubation of mAb Ne5/Nd4 with the purified mycobacterial hsp 65 abolished this keratin cross-reactivity in both immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. Moreover, these mAb showed no keratin staining in lesional psoriatic skin and also reacted weakly with cultured epidermal keratinocytes. Since mAb Ne5/Nd4 specifically recognized a 67,000-65,000 MW molecular-sized protein(s) derived from epidermal keratinocytes and the known characteristics of epidermal cytokeratin 1/2 appeared to be consistent with present results, we concluded that Ne5/Nd4 cross-reactive protein(s) in the human epidermis is suprabasal cytokeratin 1/2. Comparison of the previously mapped Ne5/Nd4 epitope region of amino acid residues 525-540 of the mycobacterial hsp 65 with the entire sequence of human 65,000 MW keratin revealed that a stretch of nine amino acids of the Ne5/Nd4 epitope sequence resembled certain regions of the carboxy-terminus of the human 65,000 MW keratin. This similarity of the mycobacterial hsp 65 probably contributes to the cytokeratin cross-reactive epitope. Our results presented here demonstrate direct evidence of immunological cross-reactivity between mycobacterial hsp 65 and human epidermal cytokeratin 1/2. We speculate that Ne5/Nd4 cross-reactive epitope of epidermal cytokeratins might be an important target for skin diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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