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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Aug;28(8):2580-90.

Epitope glycosylation plays a critical role for T cell recognition of type II collagen in collagen-induced arthritis.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Lund University, Sweden.


Immunization of mice with type II collagen (CII) leads to collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a model for rheumatoid arthritis. T cell recognition of CII is believed to be a critical step in CIA development. We have analyzed the T cell determinants on CII and the TCR used for their recognition, using twenty-nine T cell hybridomas derived from C3H.Q and DBA/1 mice immunized with rat CII. All hybridomas were specific for the CII(256-270) segment. However, posttranslational modifications (hydroxylation and variable O-linked glycosylation) of the lysine at position 264 generated five T cell determinants that were specifically recognized by different T cell hybridoma subsets. TCR sequencing indicated that each of the five T cell epitopes selected its own TCR repertoire. The physiological relevance of this observation was shown by in vivo antibody-driven depletion of TCR Valpha2-positive T cells, which resulted in an inhibition of the T cell proliferative response in vitro towards the non-modified CII(256-270), but not towards the glycosylated epitope. Most hybridomas (20/29) specifically recognized CII(256-270) glycosylated with a monosaccharide (beta-D-galactopyranose). We conclude that this glycopeptide is immunodominant in CIA and that posttranslational modifications of CII create new T cell determinants that generate a diverse TCR repertoire.

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