The autoimmune connective tissue diseases (ACTD) are a group of diseases which share clinical features and genetic inheritance. They are characterized by systemic autoimmunity and autoantibody production with a striking predilection for cellular components involved in transcription, translation and cellular transport. Although multiple triggers of autoimmunity have been proposed for this group of diseases including microbial agents such as viruses and bacteria, drugs, ultraviolet light, environmental toxins, stress, hormones and heavy metals, the prominence of autoantibodies to components of the transcription, translation, cellular transport-trail (TTTT) suggests that the agent(s) triggering the autoimmune response potentially utilize the TTTT. For the ACTD, viruses and viral agents are the likely triggers of autoimmunity as a result of aberrant viral latency with the production of autoantibodies to the components of the cellular TTTT machinery through multiple mechanisms, perhaps including molecular mimicry, bystander activation and epitope spreading.
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