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Biochemistry. 2002 Jan 8;41(1):386-93.

High selectivity of human tissue transglutaminase for immunoactive gliadin peptides: implications for celiac sprue.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5025, USA.


Celiac Sprue is an HLA DQ2 (or DQ8)-associated autoimmune disorder of the human small intestine that is induced by dietary exposure to wheat gliadin and related proteins from barley, rye, and possibly other food grains. Recently, tissue transglutaminase (tTGase)-catalyzed deamidation of gliadin peptides has been shown to increase their potency for activating patient-derived, gliadin-specific T cells, suggesting that tTGase plays a causative role in the onset of an inflammatory response to toxic food grains. To dissect the molecular recognition features of tTGase for gluten derived peptides, the regioselectivity and steady-state kinetics of tTGase-catalyzed deamidation of known immunogenic peptides were investigated. The specificity of recombinant human tTGase for all immunogenic peptides tested was comparable to and, in some cases, appreciably higher than the specificity for its natural substrate. Although each peptide was glutamine-rich, tTGase exhibited a high degree of regioselectivity for a particular glutamine residue in each peptide. This selectivity correlated well with Q --> E substitutions that have earlier been shown to enhance the immunogenicity of the corresponding gliadin peptides. The specificity of tTGase toward homologues of PQPQLPY, a sequence motif found in immunodominant gliadin peptides, was analyzed in detail. Remarkably, the primary amino acid sequences of wheat-, rye-, and barley-derived proteins included many single-residue variants of this sequence that were high-affinity substrates of tTGase, whereas the closest homologues of this sequence found in rice, corn, or oat proteins were much poorer substrates of tTGase. (Rice, corn, and oats are nontoxic ingredients of the Celiac diet.) No consensus sequence for a high-affinity substrate of tTGase could be derived from our data, suggesting that the secondary structures of these food-grain peptides were important in their recognition by tTGase. Finally, under steady-state turnover conditions, a significant fraction of the tTGase active site was covalently bound to a representative high-affinity immunogenic gliadin peptide, suggesting a common mechanism by which cells responsible for immune surveillance of the intestinal tract recognize and generate an antibody response against both gliadin and tTGase. In addition to providing a quantitative framework for understanding the role of tTGase in Celiac Sprue, our results lay the groundwork for the design of small molecule mimetics of gliadin peptides as selective inhibitors of tTGase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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