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J Biol Chem. 2013 Sep 6;288(36):25810-25. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.493247. Epub 2013 Jul 18.

Novel HLA-B27-restricted epitopes from Chlamydia trachomatis generated upon endogenous processing of bacterial proteins suggest a role of molecular mimicry in reactive arthritis.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and Universidad Autónoma, Madrid, Spain.


Reactive arthritis (ReA) is an HLA-B27-associated spondyloarthropathy that is triggered by diverse bacteria, including Chlamydia trachomatis, a frequent intracellular parasite. HLA-B27-restricted T-cell responses are elicited against this bacterium in ReA patients, but their pathogenetic significance, autoimmune potential, and relevant epitopes are unknown. High resolution and sensitivity mass spectrometry was used to identify HLA-B27 ligands endogenously processed and presented by HLA-B27 from three chlamydial proteins for which T-cell epitopes were predicted. Fusion protein constructs of ClpC, Na(+)-translocating NADH-quinone reductase subunit A, and DNA primase were expressed in HLA-B27(+) cells, and their HLA-B27-bound peptidomes were searched for endogenous bacterial ligands. A non-predicted peptide, distinct from the predicted T-cell epitope, was identified from ClpC. A peptide recognized by T-cells in vitro, NQRA(330-338), was detected from the reductase subunit. This is the second HLA-B27-restricted T-cell epitope from C. trachomatis with relevance in ReA demonstrated to be processed and presented in live cells. A novel peptide from the DNA primase, DNAP(211-223), was also found. This was a larger variant of a known epitope and was highly homologous to a self-derived natural ligand of HLA-B27. All three bacterial peptides showed high homology with human sequences containing the binding motif of HLA-B27. Molecular dynamics simulations further showed a striking conformational similarity between DNAP(211-223) and its homologous and much more flexible human-derived HLA-B27 ligand. The results suggest that molecular mimicry between HLA-B27-restricted bacterial and self-derived epitopes is frequent and may play a role in ReA.


Antigen Presentation; Antigen Processing; Arthritis; Autoimmunity; Chlamydia; Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC); Molecular Dynamics; Pathogenesis

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