Ro ribonucleoprotein particles (Ro RNPs) are evolutionarily conserved cytoplasmic complexes of unknown function. They are composed of several proteins and a small, RNA polymerase III-transcribed Ro or Y RNA. Abs directed against the protein moiety of Ro RNPs are often found in sera of patients suffering from certain autoimmune disorders. The association of one of the Ro proteins, a protein of 52 kDa (Ro52), with Ro RNPs is still questionable. In this study, we have used anti-Ro52 Abs isolated from autoimmune sera to locate the antigenic determinants of Ro52 and to analyze the correlation between regions of Ro52 recognized by these Abs and their ability to immunoprecipitate Ro RNPs. The results indicate that the autoimmune response against Ro52 is heterogeneous and that the exclusive recognition of certain epitopes does not result in immunoprecipitation of Ro RNPs.

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