The incidence of nephritis in autoimmune NZB mice is low, but when they are crossed with normal SWR mice, almost 100% of the female F1 hybrids (SNF1) develop lethal glomerulonephritis. To define the contribution of the normal SWR strain to the development of nephritis, we analyzed 65 monoclonal anti-DNA autoantibodies derived from SNF1 mice and compared them with those obtained from the NZB parent. The majority of the SNF1-derived anti-DNA antibodies were IgG and cationic in charge. By contrast, 77% of the NZB-derived antibodies were IgM. Moreover, all three NZB-derived IgG anti-DNA antibodies were anionic. The cationic property of the SNF1-derived IgG autoantibodies was not restricted to any particular antigenic specificity pattern or IgG subclass, nor was there a preference for the allotype of either parent. However, we identified a set of highly cationic (pI at 8.2 to 8.8 pH) IgG2b anti-DNA antibodies from SNF1 hybrids that had the SWR allotype. Isoelectric focusing of intact antibodies and isolated heavy and light chains showed that the highly cationic charge of these antibodies was determined by the variable regions of their heavy chains. Because IgG anti-DNA antibodies with cationic charge are especially pathogenic, those antibodies bearing the allotype of the normal SWR parent may account for the high incidence of severe nephritis in the F1 hybrids. The results indicate that pathogenic autoantibodies, which are encoded by genes of the nonautoimmune SWR parent, are expressed in the SNF1 mice due to some cellular and genetic regulatory influence of the NZB parent.

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