Rothia mucilaginosa, a natural microbial inhabitant of the oral cavity, cleaves gluten (gliadin) proteins at regions that are resistant to degradation by mammalian enzymes. The aim of this study was to investigate to what extent the R. mucilaginosa cell-associated enzymes abolish gliadin immunogenic properties. Degradation of total gliadins and highly immunogenic gliadin 33-mer or 26-mer peptides was monitored by SDS-PAGE and RP-HPLC, and fragments were sequenced by liquid chromatography and electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometer (LC-ESI-MS/MS). Peptide deamidation by tissue transglutaminase (TG2), a critical step in rendering the fragments more immunogenic, was assessed by TG2-mediated cross-linking to monodansyl cadaverine (MDC), and by a +1-Da mass difference by LC-ESI-MS. Survival of potential immunogenic gliadin epitopes was determined by use of the R5 antibody-based ELISA. R. mucilaginosa-associated enzymes cleaved gliadins, 33-mer and 26-mer peptides into smaller fragments. TG2-mediated cross-linking showed a perfect inverse relationship with intact 33-mer and 26-mer peptide levels, and major degradation fragments showed a slow rate of MDC cross-linking of 6.18 ± 2.20 AU/min compared with 97.75 ± 10.72 and 84.17 ± 3.25 AU/min for the intact 33-mer and 26-mer, respectively, which was confirmed by reduced TG2-mediated deamidation of the fragments in mass spectrometry. Incubation of gliadins with Rothia cells reduced R5 antibody binding by 20, 82, and 97% after 30 min, 2 h, and 5 h, respectively, which was paralleled by reduced reactivity of enzyme-treated 33-mer and 26-mer peptides in the R5 competitive ELISA. Our broad complementary approach to validate gluten degrading activities qualifies R. mucilaginosa-associated enzymes as promising tools to neutralize T cell immunogenic properties for treatment of celiac disease.
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