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Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(2):R38. doi: 10.1186/ar2644. Epub 2009 Mar 10.

Candidate autoantigens identified by mass spectrometry in early rheumatoid arthritis are chaperones and citrullinated glycolytic enzymes.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology and Inserm Unit 905, IFRMP 23, Institute for Biomedical Research, University of Rouen, Rouen University Hospital, Rouen 76031 cedex, France. goebvince@yahoo.fr

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The aim of our study was to identify new early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantibodies.

METHODS:

Sera obtained from 110 early untreated RA patients (<6 months) were analyzed by western blot using HL-60 cell extract, separated on one-dimensional and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (1-DE, 2-DE). Sera from 50 healthy blood donors and 20 patients with non-RA rheumatisms were used as controls for 1-DE and 2-DE, respectively. The immunoreactive proteins were identified by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometric analysis and the presence of potential sites of citrullination in each of these proteins was evaluated. FT-ICR mass spectrometry was used to verify experimentally the effect of citrullination upon the mass profile observed by MALDI-TOF analysis.

RESULTS:

The 110 1-DE patterns allowed detection of 10 recurrent immunoreactive bands of 33, 39, 43, 46, 51, 54, 58, 62, 67 and 70 kDa, which were further characterized by 2-DE and proteomic analysis. Six proteins were already described RA antigens: heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A2/B1, aldolase, alpha-enolase, calreticulin, 60 kDa heat shock protein (HSP60) and BiP. Phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK1), stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 and the far upstream element-binding proteins (FUSE-BP) 1 and 2 were identified as new antigens. Post-translational protein modifications were analyzed and potentially deiminated peptides were found on aldolase, alpha-enolase, PGK1, calreticulin, HSP60 and the FUSE-BPs. We compared the reactivity of RA sera with citrullinated and noncitrullinated alpha-enolase and FUSE-BP linear peptides, and showed that antigenicity of the FUSE-BP peptide was highly dependent on citrullination. Interestingly, the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (anti-CCP2) status in RA serum at inclusion was not correlated to the reactivity directed against FUSE-BP citrullinated peptide.

CONCLUSIONS:

Two categories of antigens, enzymes of the glycolytic family and molecular chaperones are also targeted by the early untreated RA autoantibody response. For some of them, and notably the FUSE-BPs, citrullination is involved in the immunological tolerance breakdown observed earlier in RA patients. Autoantibodies recognizing a citrullinated peptide from FUSE-BP may enhance the sensibility for RA of the currently available anti-CCP2 test.

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