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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 20;287(17):13829-39. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.344325. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Complement-dependent cytotoxicity in neuromyelitis optica requires aquaporin-4 protein assembly in orthogonal arrays.

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Department of Medicine and Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in which binding of pathogenic autoantibodies (NMO-IgG) to astrocyte aquaporin-4 (AQP4) causes complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) and inflammation. We previously reported a wide range of binding affinities of NMO-IgGs to AQP4 in separate tetramers versus intramembrane aggregates (orthogonal arrays of particles, OAPs). We report here a second, independent mechanism by which CDC is affected by AQP4 assembly. Utilizing lactate dehydrogenase release and live/dead cell cytotoxicity assays, we found in different cell lines, and with different monoclonal and patient-derived NMO-IgGs, that CDC was greatly (>100-fold) reduced in cells expressing M1- versus M23-AQP4. Studies using a M23-AQP4 mutant containing an OAP-disrupting mutation, and in cells expressing AQP4 in different M1/M23 ratios, indicated that NMO-IgG-dependent CDC requires AQP4 OAP assembly. In contrast, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity produced by natural killer cells did not depend on AQP4 OAP assembly. Measurements of C1q binding and complement attack complex (C9neo) supported the conclusion that the greatly enhanced CDC by OAPs is due to efficient, multivalent binding of C1q to clustered NMO-IgG on OAPs. We conclude that AQP4 assembly in OAPs is required for CDC in NMO, establishing a new mechanism of OAP-dependent NMO pathogenesis. Disruption of AQP4 OAPs may greatly reduce NMO-IgG dependent CDC and NMO pathology.

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