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Nuclear-penetrating scleroderma autoantibody inhibits topoisomerase 1 cleavage complex formation.

The contributions of anti-Topoisomerase 1 (Top1) autoantibodies to the pathophysiology of diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc), the most aggressive scleroderma subtype, are unknown. Top1 catalyzes DNA relaxation and unwinding in cell nuclei, a site previously considered inaccessible to antibodies. The discovery of autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus that penetrate nuclei and inhibit DNA repair raised the possibility that nuclear-penetrating autoantibodies contribute to mechanisms of autoimmunity. Here we show that an anti-Top1 autoantibody produced by a single B cell clone from a patient with dcSSc penetrates live cells and localizes into nuclei. Functionally, the autoantibody inhibits formation of the Top1 cleavage complex necessary for DNA nicking, which distinguishes it from cytotoxic camptothecin Top1 inhibitors used in cancer therapy that trap the cleavage complex rather than preventing its formation. Discovery of a patient-derived cell-penetrating scleroderma anti-Top1 autoantibody that inhibits Top1 cleavage complex formation supports the hypothesis that anti-Top1 autoantibodies contribute to cellular dysfunction in dcSSc and offers a valuable antibody reagent resource for future studies on anti-Top1 autoantibody contributions to scleroderma pathophysiology.

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