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Am J Pathol. 2013 Mar;182(3):828-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.11.029. Epub 2013 Jan 19.

Bullous pemphigoid IgG induces BP180 internalization via a macropinocytic pathway.

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Department of Dermatology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.


Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is an autoimmune blistering skin disease induced by pathogenic autoantibodies against a type II transmembrane protein (BP180, collagen type XVII, or BPAG2). In animal models, BP180 autoantibody-antigen interaction appears insufficient to develop blisters, but involvement of complement and neutrophils is required. However, cultured keratinocytes treated with BP-IgG exhibit a reduction in the adhesive strength and a loss of expression of BP180, suggesting that the autoantibodies directly affect epidermal cell-extracellular matrix integrity. In this study, we explored the consequences of two distinct epithelial cells treated with BP-IgG, particularly the fate of BP180. First, we followed the distribution of green fluorescent protein-tagged BP180 in an epithelial cell line, 804G, and normal human epidermal keratinocytes after autoantibody clustering. After BP-IgG treatment, the adhesive strength of the cells to their substrate was decreased, and BP180 was internalized in both cell types, together with the early endosomal antigen-1. By using various endocytosis inhibitors and a fluid-uptake assay, we demonstrated that BP-IgG-induced BP180 internalization is mediated via a macropinocytic pathway. Moreover, a macropinocytosis inhibitor rescued a BP-IgG-induced reduction in the adhesive strength of the cells from their substrate. The results of this study suggest that BP180 internalization induced by BP-IgG plays an important role in the initiation of disease pathogenesis.

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