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OBJECTIVE: Lupus-associated IgG anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies are thought to be pathogenic in the kidney due to cross-reaction with glomerular antigens, leading subsequently to immune complex formation in situ and complement activation. We undertook this study to determine if pathogenic anti-DNA antibodies may also contribute to renal damage by directly influencing mesangial gene expression. METHODS: Complementary DNA microarray gene profiling was performed in primary mesangial cells (derived from lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice) treated with pathogenic, noncomplexed anti-DNA antibodies. Significant gene up-regulation induced by anti-DNA antibodies as determined by microarray analysis was further investigated by real-time polymerase chain reaction and methods to detect the relevant proteins. Induction of proinflammatory genes by pathogenic antibodies was confirmed by comparing gene expression in glomeruli of old versus young MRL/lpr mice, and by antibody injection in vivo. RESULTS: Pathogenic, but not nonpathogenic, antibodies significantly induced a number of transcripts, including CXCL1/KC, LCN2, iNOS, CX3CL1/fractalkine, SERPINA3G, and IkappaBalpha (“marker genes”). Blocking of Fcgamma receptors or using Fcgamma chain-knockout mesangial cells had no effect on the gene regulation effect of the pathogenic antibody R4A, indicating a non-Fc-dependent mechanism. The glomerular expression of these marker genes increased over time with the development of glomerular antibody deposition and active nephritis in MRL/lpr mice. Moreover, injection of R4A into SCID mice in vivo significantly up-regulated glomerular marker gene expression. CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that the renal pathogenicity of anti-DNA antibodies may be attributed in part to their ability to directly modulate gene expression in kidney mesangial cells through both Fc-dependent and non-Fc-dependent mechanisms.