Contribution of peptide backbone to anti-citrullinated peptide antibody reactivity

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, affecting approximately 1-2% of the world population. One of the characteristic features of RA is the presence of autoantibodies. Especially the highly specific anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPAs), which have been found in up to 70% of RA patients' sera, have received much attention. Several citrullinated proteins are associated with RA, suggesting that ACPAs may react with different sequence patterns, separating them from traditional antibodies, whose reactivity usually is specific towards a single target. As ACPAs have been suggested to be involved in the development of RA, knowledge about these antibodies may be crucial. In this study, we examined the influence of peptide backbone for ACPA reactivity in immunoassays. The antibodies were found to be reactive with a central Cit- Gly motif being essential for ACPA reactivity and to be cross-reactive between the selected citrullinated peptides. The remaining amino acids within the citrullinated peptides were found to be of less importance for antibody reactivity. Moreover, these findings indicated that the Cit-Gly motif in combination with peptide backbone is essential for antibody reactivity. Based on these findings it was speculated that any amino acid sequence, which brings the peptide into a properly folded structure for antibody recognition is sufficient for antibody reactivity. These findings are in accordance with the current hypothesis that structural homology rather than sequence homology are favored between citrullinated epitopes. These findings are important in relation to clarifying the etiology of RA and to determine the nature of ACPAs, e.g. why some Cit-Gly-containing sequences are not targeted by ACPAs.




Trier, N. H., Dam, C. E., Olsen, D. T., Hansen, P. R., & Houen, G. (2015). Contribution of peptide backbone to anti-citrullinated peptide antibody reactivity. PLoS ONE, 10(12).

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