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Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Nov;162(2):262-70.

Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies target sequential functional proteinase 3 epitopes in the sera of patients with Wegener’s granulomatosis.

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Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, 73104, USA.


Many patients with Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG) have anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (c-ANCA). Aside from being a diagnostic marker, these autoantibodies may play roles in disease pathogenesis. Proteinase 3 (PR3) is the primary target of c-ANCA in WG patient sera. Of 60 c-ANCA-positive patients, 10 patients were selected for detailed humoral epitope analysis, contingent upon serum availability, using samples with positive levels of anti-PR3 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Sequential epitope specificities of anti-PR3 antibodies detected by screening the maximally overlapping solid-phase octapeptides of PR3 showed seven major common antigenic targets bound by WG patient sera. These include novel and previously identified sequential PR3 epitopes bound by c-ANCA. B cell epitope prediction algorithms identified all or part of the seven defined epitopes. Several epitopes share sequence and structural proximity with functional sites, including the catalytic triad and proposed binding sites of other potential proteins [PR3 complementary peptide and soluble endothelial protein C receptor (sEPCR)]. Epitope 4 (VVLGAHNVRTQ) had the highest binding prevalence (90%) and epitope 2 (AQPHSRPYMAS) has the highest average reactivity of the antigenic regions. Epitope 4 includes the interaction site between sEPCR and PR3 which may serve as an important interaction to down-regulate inflammation. Epitopes 3, 5 and 7 are in direct proximity to amino acids that form the catalytic triad of the protein. c-ANCA targets both unique and previously known sequential PR3 peptides. This information may prove useful in understanding anti-PR3-mediated disease pathogenesis in systemic vasculitides.

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