A 63 kDa skeletal muscle protein associated with eye muscle inflammation in Graves' disease is identified as the calcium binding protein calsequestrin.

PMID 10052680


It is generally accepted that thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) is an autoimmune disease of the eye muscle (EM) and the surrounding orbital connective tissue in which circulating antibodies play an important role. Antibodies against EM membrane proteins of 63-67kDa mol. wt. seem to be the best markers of ophthalmopathy in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. We purified a 63 kDa EM protein using SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis technology and TAO patients' sera as probes, digested the protein with cyanogen bromide and sequenced immunoreactive peptides. We also screened a human EM library with a rabbit antiserum against 63-65 kDa proteins and affinity purified antibodies from a TAO patient's serum that reacted with a 55 kDa EM membrane protein. From partial sequence information and from DNA sequencing of positive cDNA clones, the protein was identified as calsequestrin, a 63 kDa calcium binding protein localized in the sarcoplasmic reticulum of the muscle fiber. As determined by Northern blotting, calsequestrin was expressed in EM and other skeletal muscle but not thyroid or fibroblasts. Calsequestrin is different from the "64 kDa protein", which has been identified as succinate dehydrogenase flavoprotein subunit, which has a corrected mol. wt. of 67 kDa. Serum antibodies against calsequestrin were found in 40% of patients with clinically active TAO, but in only 4% of those with stable eye disease, and in 5% of normal subjects, by immunoblotting. Although it is possible that autoimmunity against calsequestrin plays a role in the progressive EM damage that characterizes ophthalmopathy it is more likely that the antibodies are secondary to a reaction against some other cell membrane protein, such as the novel thyroid and eye muscle shared protein G2s or the TSH receptor.