The sera of six patients with autoimmune disease, predominantly myositis with pulmonary fibrosis, contain antibodies of the PL-12 specificity. These autoantibodies react with both protein and RNA components of human cells. The protein has a subunit molecular mass of 110 kD, and the RNA comprises a group of bands in the tRNA size class. Aminoacylation experiments identify the antigens as alanyl-tRNA synthetase and its corresponding tRNAs, tRNAAla. Anti-tRNA antibody can be absorbed out without depleting antisynthetase activity, showing that the antigens are recognized independently by separable antibodies that coexist in these sera. The concurrence of separate antibodies to the two components suggests that the autoimmune response may be mounted against the charging enzyme-tRNA complex. However, the antisynthetase antibody fails to coprecipitate tRNA with the enzyme, suggesting that the antibody reacts with its target only when it is not complexed with tRNA.

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