Lupus: An Autoimmune Disease Involving RNA Processing
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease thatcan have fatal consequences. It starts, usually in late adolescence or early adulthood, with a rash on the forehead and cheekbones, giving the wolflike appearance from which the disease takes its name. (Lupus means “wolf” in Latin.) Severe kidney damage may follow, along with arthritis, accumulation of fluid around the heart, and inflammation of the lungs. About 90% of lupus patients are women. It has been established that this disease is of autoimmune origin, specifically from the production of antibodies to one of the snRNPs, U1-snRNP. This snRNP is so designated because it contains a uracil-rich RNA, U1-snRNA, which recognizes the 5' splice junction of mRNA. Because the processing of mRNA affects every tissue and organ in the body, this disease affects widely dispersed target areas and can spread easily.