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The neuronal RNA-binding protein Nova-2 is implicated as the autoantigen targeted in POMA patients with dementia.

Yang Y.Y., Yin G.L., Darnell R.B.

Paraneoplastic opsoclonus myoclonus ataxia (POMA) is a neurologic disorder thought to be mediated by an autoimmune attack against onconeural disease antigens that are expressed by gynecologic or lung tumors and by neurons. One POMA disease antigen, termed Nova-1, has been identified as a neuron-specific KH-type RNA-binding protein. Nova-1 expression is restricted to specific regions of the central nervous system, primarily the hindbrain and ventral spinal cord, which correlate with the predominantly motor symptoms in POMA. However, POMA antisera recognize antigens that are widely expressed in both caudal and rostral regions of the central nervous system, and some patients develop cognitive symptoms. We have used POMA antisera to clone a cDNA encoding a second POMA disease antigen termed Nova-2. Nova-2 is closely related to Nova-1, and is expressed at high levels in neurons during development and in adulthood, and at lower levels in the adult lung. In the postnatal mouse brain, Nova-2 is expressed in a pattern that is largely reciprocal with Nova-1, including high levels of Nova-2 expression in the neocortex and hippocampus. Functional characterization of Nova-2 in RNA selection and nitrocellulose filter-binding assays reveals that Nova-2 binds RNA with high affinity and with sequence specificity that differs from Nova-1. Our results demonstrate that the immune response in POMA targets a family of highly related sequence-specific neuronal RNA-binding proteins. The expression pattern of the Nova-2 protein is likely to underlie the development of cognitive deficits in some POMA patients.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95:13254-13259(1998) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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