INTRODUCTIONOrgan-specific autoimmune diseases are believed to result from immune responses generated against self-antigens specific to each organ. However, when such responses target antigens expressed promiscuously in multiple tissues, then the immune-mediated damage may be wide spread.METHODSIn this report, we describe a mitochondrial protein, branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase (BCKDk ) that can act as a target autoantigen in the development of autoimmune inflammatory reactions in both heart and liver.RESULTSWe demonstrate that BCKDk protein contains at least nine immunodominant epitopes, three of which, BCKDk 71-90, BCKDk 111-130 and BCKDk 141-160, were found to induce varying degrees of myocarditis in immunized mice. One of these, BCKDk 111-130, could also induce hepatitis without affecting lungs, kidneys, skeletal muscles, and brain. In immunogenicity testing, all three peptides induced antigen-specific T cell responses, as verified by proliferation assay and/or major histocompatibility complex class II/IAk dextramer staining. Finally, the disease-inducing abilities of BCKDk peptides were correlated with the production of interferon-γ, and the activated T cells could transfer disease to naive recipients.CONCLUSIONSThe disease induced by BCKDk peptides could serve as a useful model to study the autoimmune events of inflammatory heart and liver diseases.