The crossreactivity of antibodies against a renal autoimmune epitope of Streptococcus pyogenes M protein with glomerular mesangial cells was investigated. The antibodies directed against the amino acid sequence Ile-Arg-Leu-Arg of the nephritogenic type 1 M protein reacted in a fibrillar pattern with mesangial cells cultured from isolated glomeruli. In Western blots of urea-extracted mesangial proteins, the antibodies reacted with a 56-kD protein. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies identified the 56-kD mesangial protein as vimentin. Two synthetic peptides of human vimentin containing the sequence Arg-Leu-Arg reacted with the autoimmune antibodies raised against a streptococcal M protein peptide. These results provide evidence that the intermediate filament protein vimentin shares autoimmune epitopes with streptococcal M protein.

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